The University of Mary Hardin–Baylor (UMHB) is a Christian co-educational institution of higher learning located in Belton, Texas, United States. UMHB was founded by the Republic of Texas in 1845 as "Baylor Female College" making it the oldest continuously operating college in the state, it has grown to approximately 2,700 students and awards degrees at the baccalaureate, master's, and doctorate levels. It is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
The university is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). UMHB's first doctoral program, leading to the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), officially began in June 2007 with twenty-one students in the inaugural class. The university's overall student/faculty ratio is 16:1.
UMHB's history dates to the time before Texas became a U.S. state. Its original charter was granted by the Republic of Texas (prior to statehood) in 1845 as the female department of Baylor University. Classes began in May, 1846, in a small wooden building on a hillside at Independence in Washington County. The first class consisted of twenty-four male and female students While it was a coeducational institution, the classes were still separated by gender.
Baylor College’s coeducation lasted only until 1851 when it was divided into a Female Department and a Male Department. Each began occupying separate buildings approximately a mile apart at the Independence campus.
The changing demography of Texas and relocation of the local railroad made it increasingly difficult for college students to get transportation to Independence. Both colleges were relocated in 1886 to their permanent homes in Central Texas: the women's division relocated to Belton where operations continued as Baylor Female College; the men's division moved to Waco, merged with coeducational Waco University, and continued as Baylor University.
The Cottage Home System, the first work-study program for women in a college west of the Mississippi, was instituted on the new Belton campus in 1893 by Elli Moore Townsend, wife of the serving president. Its aim was to provide more affordable housing for women students who could not meet the expense of dormitories. The women students earned financial assistance by growing vegetables, raising livestock, and hand making crafts and quality clothing items. Initially the cottages were modest wood frame residences. In 1905, a permanent residence hall for the Cottage Home System was built by the residents themselves.
Beginning in 1922, a few male students, known as "Campus Boys," were allowed to attend classes and work on campus through their junior year, at which time they transferred to Baylor University or another college for their senior year and graduation. "Campus Boys" did work that was deemed unsuitable for the young ladies. They maintained the grounds, unloaded coal from rail cars, milked cows, fed hogs, served as night watchmen, and unstopped drains. They lived on the second floor of a carpenter shop in quarters dubbed "The Shack."
In 1925, Baylor Female College was renamed Baylor College for Women. A year later in 1926, it was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities (now SACS), being the first Texas Baptist college to do so. Then in 1927, it received accreditation from the American Association of Colleges. In 1925, enrollment peaked at 2,372 which forced the college to start a costly building project. That, in addition to a devastating campus fire in 1929, required immediate construction of even more buildings and, with the help of the Great Depression, brought the college to the edge of bankruptcy. It was saved by a generous gift from Mary and John G. Hardin. In gratitude, the college changed its name to Mary Hardin–Baylor College in 1934.
In 1968, the Scott & White College of Nursing, named for the Scott & White Memorial Hospital located in nearby Temple, became a part of Mary Hardin–Baylor College.
Mary Hardin–Baylor College once again became fully co-educational in 1971. With the inauguration in 1978 of its first graduate program, a Master of Education, the college achieved status as a university with five schools: Arts and Sciences, Creative Arts, Business, Education, and Nursing. It was renamed the University of Mary Hardin–Baylor.
There are 119 undergraduate majors and 13 graduate degree programs, including several Master's degree and one doctoral program. Qualified students can participate in engaged learning through internships with businesses and industries. Study abroad programs are offered on 3 continents.
UMHB comprises eight colleges: College of Business, College of Christian Studies, College of Education, College of Humanities, Scott and White College of Nursing, College of Sciences, College of Visual and Performing Arts.
Mary Gentry Kavanaugh Class of 1855 The first graduate of the Female Department of Baylor University in Independence.
Fannie H. Hatchett, Class of 1879. One of the first women in Texas to earn a medical degree.
Bess Whitehead Scott, Class of 1911. The first female news and feature reporter for the Houston Post newspaper.
Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, Former student 1918. The first woman governor of Texas and the second woman to be elected governor of any state in the U.S.
Oveta Culp Hobby, Former student 1921. The first woman appointed as a commanding officer of a military unit who directed the Women’s Army Corps in World War II; the second woman to serve in a Cabinet for a U.S. president; the first secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
Clara MacCash Cochran, Class of 1927. In 1955, the first woman to serve as foreman of a grand jury in Texas.
Martha Moore Clancy, Class of 1929. Directed a music program in her church which helped develop the graded choir programs in Southern Baptist Convention churches.
Alberta Brown Murphy, Class of 1931. Attorney and civil rights activist who worked to improve race relations and treatment of the mentally ill in Alabama.
Rhobia Taylor, Class of 1934. The first woman named by the Secretary of Labor to represent the U.S. Department of Labor and the second in the nation to sit on a Federal Executive Board.
Kay Teer Crawford, Class of 1936. Directed the drill team portion of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and in 1986, the drill team ceremonies of the Statue of Liberty celebration.
Dr. Minnie Caddell Miles, Class of 1936. National president of the Business and Professional Women who advocated for “equal pay for equal work” for women in the workplace. President John F. Kennedy requested her attendance when he signed the bill into law.
Dr. Sally Provence, Class of 1937. Professor of Pediatrics at Yale University Child Study Center for 40 years and a nationally recognized authority in pediatrics.
Dr. Anna Beth Connell, Class of 1943. One of the first female doctors in the military; served in the Navy following World War II.
Dr. Bess Hieronymus, Class of 1944. In 1993, became the first American and the first woman inducted into the prestigious 131 year-old National Russian Music Society, joining noted composers Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky.
Mary Hamilton Purcell, Class of 1947. Former president of American Association of University Women and International Federation of University Women, serves as a liaison with the United Nations in New York City on matters of concern with women all over the world.
Helen Holmes Ruchti, Class of 1950. In 1967, elected president of the European Baptist Convention, the first woman and the first non-ordained individual to fill that position.
Luci Swindoll, Class of 1955. Author of eight books and one of six inspirational speakers with Women of Faith who may speak to 20,000-26,000 women at each of several conferences held annually in major U.S. cities.
Frances Garmon, Class of 1961. In 1979, coached the first USA team in the World University Games to ever beat Russia in women’s international basketball. In 1982, her team again won over the Russians and in 1983, she coached the gold-medal winning USA Pan American women’s team. Fran was inducted into the national Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee, in June, 2000.
Madge Mao Meyer, Class of 1961. Listed as one of the premier 100 Information Technology leaders in 2004; she is Executive Vice President for State Street Corporation in Boston. An early assignment with IBM included doing mathematical computations and analyses for the last three Gemini orbital spaceflights.
Dr. Carole Smith, Class of 1965. Helped develop organized intercollegiate athletics for women in Texas.
Norma Pullin, Class of 1966. With her volleyball team won 13 state titles; ranked third in the nation and second in Texas in total number of games won while coaching.
Dorothy Doolittle, Class of 1969. Among the first women to run in a marathon, at one time was ranked 5th in the nation and 6th in the world.
Former President George H. W. Bush, management expert Dr. Ken Blanchard (author of the "One-Minute Manager" books), and former First Lady Barbara Bush were recent distinguished guest speakers on campus. Johnson Hall, an all-girls dormitory on the UMHB campus, was named after Rebekah Baines Johnson, mother of President Lyndon B. Johnson and granddaughter of Baptist preacher Reverend George Washington Baines who served as president of the college from 1861–1864. President Johnson, Mrs. Johnson and several other family members were present when the building was dedicated on September 26, 1968.
The UMHB Crusaders, or "The Cru," competes in NCAA Division III as a member of the American Southwest Conference (ASC). UMHB was formally a member of the NAIA before becoming a full member of the NCAA Division III following the 1999–2000 school year. UMHB held dual membership in the NAIA and NCAA during a provisional period as UMHB was transitioning to the NCAA.
UMHB sponsors twelve varsity athletic programs, six men's and six women's:
The Crusaders have won one national championship and seven national runner-up finishes:
For 73 consecutive years the University of Mary Hardin–Baylor has produced an outdoor reproduction of the Holy Week. Each year the pageant takes place on the Wednesday afternoon before Easter and is performed on campus in front of Luther Memorial. The Easter Pageant is fully produced by the students of UMHB themselves, including directing, costumes and performances and draws nearly 5,000 viewers each year.
Charter Day is an annual tradition that celebrates the charter signing on February 1, 1845. The event is held during chapel service on the first Wednesday in February. During the service, seniors sing the alumni/senior song, "Up with the Purple." At the conclusion of the service, it is tradition for seniors to place a wreath of flowers on the grave of Judge R.E.B. Baylor, located in the courtyard.
Homecoming provides opportunities for graduates and former students to return to campus and connect with former classmates and the university. The first Homecoming was held in 1909 and over the years has been held in either the Fall or Spring. Students and alumni together celebrate Homecoming in the Fall to include Football activities. Selection of the Homecoming Court and the pep rally with fireworks are some of the new events established by students.
Robing symbolizes the passing of the student leadership from the Senior Class to the Junior Class. The specific origin of the robing ceremony is not known, but it may have occurred as early as 1902. Seniors place their caps and gowns on the juniors, and this is the first time the Juniors are allowed to sing the alumni/senior song, “Up with the Purple.” Since 2007, Robing has been held on the Friday of Midnight March with Class Ring Ceremony.
At midnight on the Saturday of Homecoming Weekend, seniors in regalia march with lighted candles around Vann Circle Drive. As they sing the senior/alumni song, "Up With the Purple," they stop to light the candles of special friends and alumni. In the early stages of the Midnight March, the dormitory residents would witness the March inside of their dark rooms. Later during the ceremony, the residents would migrate into the hallway so senior friends could light their candles. Due to fire codes, however, the March was moved outdoors.
Stunt Night is a competition among the four classes that builds a bond between members and creates class spirit. It began in 1909 when George Rosborough, the physical education instructor, initiated Stunt Night to give the campus residents, who could not go home, an activity during the Christmas holidays. The Stunt Night committee selects a theme for the event, allowing the class directors time to prepare a skit and an original song. The winning class has the honor of decorating the Stunt Night blanket which is then displayed in the Musick Alumni Center and Museum for a year.
In the Spring of 1995, students requested a ceremony to create closer emotional ties to the university. Subsequently, a “Dubbing Ceremony” became part of Welcome Week. Each Fall new students are “dubbed” with a ceremonial sword by the university administration as “Crusaders Forever.” Prior to the ceremony, students light candles and sing the Alma Mater. Immediately following the ceremony the sophomores ring the sophomore bell the number of years the university has been in existence.
The Pageant provides young women opportunities to gain confidence and poise and to develop friendships through competition. The pageant has evolved over the years into a two-evening, primarily student-produced event. Classes and student organizations select representatives and judges interview the contestants, listen to their platforms, and evaluate them on the group dance, individual talent and evening gown stroll. Miss MHB and three runners-up are named, and each one receives a scholarship for the semester following their selection.
The Class of 1994 held the first Crusader Knights in the Fall of 1993. It is a two-night, themed event for the men of UMHB. The competition includes a group opening number, short video-skits created by the participants showing their personality and talent, and the individuals walking in evening attire. The winner is dubbed Mr. Crusader Knight by the university president.
The current Alma Mater was sung for the first time in February 1994 with the lyrics written by two students and the music written by two graduates of the university. Former school songs included "Centennial Song," "Old Baylor," "Mary Hardin–Baylor College," "Old Baylor Is Marching," "Slinga da Ink," and "Swing Song."
Though it's rarely sung, there are words to the UMHB fight song which is played at most sporting events throughout the year.