Founded in 1845, Baylor is the largest Baptist university in the world. Its founders were “Baptist Pioneers” who wanted to start a university to champion their faith.
Baylor began as an all-male college, but then-President Rufus Burleson opened the Baylor Female College only six years later. In 1887, after Baylor Female College had moved to another part of Texas, the university went coed. Baylor’s original campus was located in Independence, TX, but the university moved to Waco after the town's infrastructure went into decline. After relocating, Baylor merged with Waco University.
Over the past fifteen years, Baylor has attempted to be both progressive and conservative in its mission. Ultimately, though, the new vision for Baylor (called “Baylor 2012”) seeks to preserve and strengthen the Christian values that remain at the university's core.
While the town of Waco is often a turn-off for visiting students, the campus itself is quite impressive. Many of the campus' major academic buildings are classic Victorian, and sprawling gardens and green meadows abound (the Founders Mall stretches through the middle of campus, like a green version of the Reflecting Pool in D.C. The spires on the buildings light up at night and the inside of Browning Library, with its stained glass windows and otherwise pristine qualities, looks straight out of a classic southern novel.
The bells inside the tower of the main administrative building, Pat Neff Hall, chime loudly during the day, and the Pat Neff dome lights up in green every time Baylor wins a sporting event.
The facilities are all top notch, with the SLC workout/rec facility and the Baylor Sciences Building as major draws. The 500,000 square-foot science building is one of the largest science facilities in the state. Students can hang out at Common Grounds coffee shop, or shoot pool in the SUB – both are open late during the week.
With all the improvements that Baylor is making before 2012 (according to the strategic Baylor 2012 Plan) there will no doubt be more improvements and construction projects to come.
Waco is much maligned by Baylor students. Students love the campus but have choice words for the Waco location, calling it dirty, uneventful, and boring. The popular student platitude is “I love Baylor, but I hate Waco..." despite the presence of the world-renowned Dr. Pepper Museum.
Downtown Waco has its share of nightclubs and bars to occasionally satiate the college crowd, as well as a selection of stores and restaurants. But the city's infrastructure is slowly decaying, and Waco's leaders have been slow in rehabilitating the town’s center. Students are quick to point out they do not generally feel safe in Waco at night and try to avoid the town as much as possible. Many students prefer to drive two hours to reach Dallas or Austin for the weekends.
All University Sing is a variety show held in the spring that features campus clubs and organizations singing songs. Recently, the show has gone more high-tech, with rock-inspired song and dance performances.
Diadeloso, a.k.a. “Day of the Bear,” has been going on since the spring of 1934. Anything goes on this day, and classes are canceled for the field-day festivities, including lots of tug-of-war, races, and sport tournaments. There’s also entertainment provided with music, comedy, theater, dance, and other performances.
The Pigskin Revue occurs during the Baylor Homecoming, where top acts from the All University Sing perform more elaborate versions of their shows.
In January 1927, a bus carrying the entire Baylor basketball team hit a speeding train, killing ten. The freshman class is told the story of the "Immortal Ten" during their first Homecoming, and the names of those killed are called out. Sculptor Bruce Greene built statues to honor the Immortal Ten, and in June of 2007, these statues were unveiled in Traditions Square.
Dr. Pepper Hour has occurred once a week since 1953. Students are treated to a cold Dr. Pepper and a bunch of piano music in the “Drawing Room” of the Bill Daniel Student Center. In the year 2008, it's still a time for socializing and drinking Dr. Pepper floats.
Hayden Fry (1951) is a renowned NCAA football coach.
Michael Johnson (1990) is a track star who won five gold medals in the 2004 Olympics.
Willie Nelson (attended) is a country music legend.
Mike Singletary (1980) was a hall of fame linebacker for the Chicago Bears.
Mark White (1962), Ann Richards (1954), Pat Neff (1894), and Price Daniel (1931) all served as governors of Texas.
The Baylor Bears play in Division I of the Big 12 Conference. They’ve won two recent NCAA championships, men’s tennis in 2004 and women’s basketball in 2005.
The NoZe Brotherhood is a secret frat at Baylor. Over the years, they’ve participated in a series of pranks that offended many Baylor students and administrators. Nevertheless, the frat is still active. During graduation, NoZe members typically announce their membership in the society by wearing funny disguise glasses.
Baylor still has a “bear pit” where actual bears live. This website has documented the poor, sad treatment of the bears.
Per the Baylor 2012 plan, the university is trying hard to keep more students on campus during their four years. Only 35% of students currently live on campus, partially because of how quickly Baylor’s population is increasing.
Incoming freshmen have seven dorms to choose from, and there are eleven dorms altogether. All dorms are single-sex, but there are four coed apartment buildings that house upperclassmen.
Even as the freshman class has been expanding, 2004 was the first year that a new dormitory was built. North Village is an apartment-style dorm with a courtyard, garden, café, and area for studying. In 2006, Brooks Hall, the oldest dorm on campus, was torn down to make room for Brooks Village, which holds three times more students than Brooks Hall.
New developments include the construction of Brooks Flats and Brooks College, Baylor's first coed dorm.