WACO (July 10, 2013)--Lawyers for a Baylor University alumnus were in U.S. District Court Wednesday in Waco asking a judge to prevent Baylor from demolishing the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center to make way for a pedestrian bridge across the Brazos River that will connect the campus to the school’s new football stadium.
After a hearing that lasted for several hours, U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith ordered both parties to mediation and told them he expected a resolution by the end of the month.
The graduate who filed the suit, Kurt Dorr, was not present in the courtroom.
The hearing began at 9 a.m. Wednesday and ended with the mediation order at about 2:40 p.m.
All parties went to rooms in the federal courthouse and began the mediation process immediately.
The issue surfaced last month after an agreement was reached 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 Wednesday 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.