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Meredith Cuts Baptist Ties

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Meredith College
RALEIGH — After 106 years of being linked to the BaptistState Convention, Meredith College has severed the ties. The board oftrustees voted unanimously to elected its own board members and to beindependent of all Baptist influence.

Board chairman Norman Kellum was quoted inThe News &Observeras saying, "We feel it is best for Meredith to select itsown trustees. Meredith is a grown woman, not a little girl."

Jeannie Morelock, Meredith's marketing and communications director, echoesthat sentiment.

The largest women's college in the Southeast, Meredith is located on225 acres in West Raleigh, next to Hillsborough Street and the Beltline.

The move protects the school from political currents affecting theState Baptist Convention. In recent years the organization has becomeincreasingly conservative, leading faculty to worry that textbookcensorship, Bible studies and chapel services might be mandated. OtherBaptist-affiliated colleges, among them Furman, Stetson and Baylor, havecut ties to the state conventions in South Carolina, Florida and Texas.

Meredith's Alumni Association President Elizabeth Beam expressesdisappointment in the decision.

Only 34 percent of Meredith students are Baptist. Alumni response wasmixed, with some women applauding what they see as defense of academicfreedom, and others saying they wished something else might have beenworked out.

Mandy Cozart is a Meredith student who says she'd like to see the Baptistaffiliation remain.

Student Yvonne Ward says she sees this as an opening up to everyone.

The faculty has been nearly unanimous in its approval of theseparation.

The trustees told the Baptist State Convention that they hoped forcontinuance of a harmonious relationship.

Convention president Greg Mathis said Meredith's decision represents a"great loss." He also noted that he is puzzled by the school's action,since he knows "of not one ounce of pressure that has been put on them."

Trustees, however, said they wanted to remove any possibility ofpolitical influence from its academic decisions.

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