WACO (July 29, 2013)—Crews went to work over the weekend to demolish the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center to make way for a pedestrian bridge across the Brazos River that will connect the campus to Baylor’s new football stadium.
U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith lifted a temporary restraining order Friday that barred Baylor from demolishing the building, which gave the school a green light to proceed with the original plan for the pedestrian bridge, Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogelman said.
Smith issued the order in early July in response to a lawsuit filed by Baylor graduate Kurt Dorr, a Baylor Alumni Association member who’s a banker in the Chicago area.
On July 10 after a hearing that lasted for several hours, Smith ordered both parties to mediation and told them he expected a resolution by the end of the month.
The suit stems from an agreement that was reached last month between the university and officials of the independent Alumni Association that cleared the way for demolition of the building.
Members of the association, however, must still vote in early September on the deal, which would disband the independent association and move its programs under the aegis of the university.
Dorr’s attorneys argued that the university should be enjoined from razing the building until the vote.
University attorneys countered that the school met a three-pronged test to allow for the demolition, which included proving a need for the land, providing no reasonable alternative to its use and offering the tenant a space of equal size and quality.
They said waiting until September could delay completion of the final project.
The association has maintained its independence from the university since the organization was formed in 1859, but there has been friction between the group and the university since the era of President Robert B. Sloan, Jr. when the association took issue with some of the elements of Baylor's ambitious 2012 plan.
Sloan dropped a service contract with the alumni group for the 2003-2004 fiscal year, forcing the organization to become fully independent.
The contract was later restored, but, in 2007, Sloan's successor Dr. John Lilley pulled funding from the Alumni Association's annual operating budget.
Under the agreement announced last month, the alumni association’s Baylor Line Magazine would be published independently for subscribers by the newly-constituted Baylor Line Corp., while the university will continue to publish Baylor Magazine for all alumni.