[Updated 13 November, 2009: Inside Higher Ed reports that Baylor's independent association cannot perform its traditional role at Commencement.]
"I am just as confused about the Baylor Alumni Association and Baylor University parting ways completely as everybody else. And I too feel like there are holes in the story and some things aren't being said..."
That was one reader's reaction to a story on the Waco Tribune-Herald's web site yesterday, under the headline:
Baylor University removes alumni association's link from its Web site
Why would a university remove from its site the link to its own alumni association? And shut off the toll-free telephone number the school had previously provided for the association? I don't know the history of this, but the presentation of the story by the Waco paper combines with readers' comments for an interesting narrative.
Apparently part of a planned separation so that Baylor's Alumni Association could take on independent status, differing versions of the split are causing friction between the school and its support organization. In particular, the ongoing presidential search on the Texas school's campus is mentioned by both sides' supporters as a point of contention. The University's site dedicated to the search is appropriately peppered with press releases and background information from the school and its governance group. In contrast, the Alumni Association's version of the same site provides links to a number of published commentaries about the process itself and the actors involved.
A quick scan of Facebook shows official groups and pages for the school itself and the Association, but as yet no discernible discussion around these topics (other than passing comments about the last president's departure). If these issues are truly of broad interest to alumni, we might expect to see Facebook groups appear supporting one side or the other.
Meanwhile, with most independent associations moving from independent to dependent status over time, it's unusual to see a school's association moving in the opposite direction. Whatever the background or political and personal battles may involve, the reader quoted above may well have it right: some things haven't yet been explained publicly and if there's more to report that seems worthwhile I'll pass it along here.
Waco Tribune-Herald story about the debate
Inside Higher Ed's summary of the situation
Baylor's "Alumni & Friends"
Photo of sign from Baylor campus by Flickr user Alan Levine via Creative Commons.