2005

Baylor Dismisses Gay Alumnus From Advisory Board

For years Baylor University gladly accepted donations of time and money from Tim Smith.

The 1983 Baylor graduate with a degree in accounting had done his university proud. He got an MBA from Harvard, worked with a venture capital firm and was running a technology company. In a decade, he had personally given about $65,000 in gifts to Baylor and had raised another $60,000 to endow a fund in honor of a business colleague and the colleague’s wife who had met at Baylor.

Over a nine year period, Smith had given an annual talk in an entrepreneurship class, and for the last five, he has served on the advisory committee for the business school.

Then in November 2005 Baylor found out its star business supporter was gay. Seems Smith was just a little too honest with a professor who asked Smith why he was moving from Dallas to Charleston. Smith told him the move was so he could be closer to his partner.

That conversation came up in another conversation between the professor and the dean Terry Maness, who still heads Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business.

Maness asked Smith to resign from the business school’s advisory committee.

“It makes me very, very sad. Here is a university that I love and that has done a lot of very good things for me. So it’s sad, being rejected like that,” Smith told Inside HigherEd. “Also I feel very angry. My money was good enough for them and my time was good enough for them. I haven’t changed, but they find out I’m gay and that disqualifies me. That’s just wrong.”

Smith told the magazine that he was “in no way an activist” and never talked about being gay at business school meetings because it just didn’t fit into the conversation.

“We were talking about the curriculum, how to make sure the business school reflected the real world of business. I never thought it was relevant,” he said.

Maness released a statement later explaining why Smith needed to stop advising the business school. “Recently, I asked a member of our advisory board to step down because of his alternative lifestyle,” the statement said. “We must be sensitive to the position of our affiliated denomination, the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which has, on previous occasions, stated that a homosexual lifestyle is incompatible with most Baptist interpretations of scripture.”

As for Smith, in 2015 he said he didn’t feel any personal bitterness toward Maness, who Smith said faces unfortunate pressure to adhere to anti-gay policies. “No dean at Baylor is ever going to get fired for getting rid of a homosexual, but he does risk his job for retaining one,” Smith said.