Sunday, Oct. 6 event commemorates shared history, historic roots of the oldest continuously operating university in Texas
WACO, Texas (Oct. 4, 2013) – Baylor University President Ken Starr and University of Mary Hardin-Baylor President Randy O’Rear will be among the students, alumni and friends of both universities who will take part in a rededication service at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, at the foot of the historic columns of “Old Baylor” in Independence, Texas.
The four columns from the original campus of Baylor University – which was chartered by the Republic of Texas in 1845 – still stand today in Independence. Last repaired 60 years ago, the columns have been restored with limestone and strengthened with carbon and steel rods. Surrounded by carefully lit native oak trees, the columns at Independence glisten at night and are visible from FM 390 or FM 50.
WHAT: Rededication Service for “Old Baylor” at Independence
WHEN: 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6
WHERE: At the foot of the historic columns of “Old Baylor” at Independence
(Link to Google map)
The occasion will mark the first time the presidents of Baylor and UMHB have met at Old Baylor in 60 years. The program will include remarks from Lanella Gray of Brenham, a 1954 Baylor graduate who has played an active role in celebrating Baylor’s heritage at Independence; Presidents Starr and O’Rear, UMHB professors Carol Holcomb, Ph.D., and Leroy Kemp, Ph.D.; Dr. David Hardage, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas; and special music by UMHB’s One Voice and Baylor’s Chamber Singers.
History of “Old Baylor” at Independence
In the 19th century, the town of Independence – an unincorporated village in Washington County, 112 miles south of Waco – was known for its 1839 Baptist church at the crossroads. Independence was a thriving cotton plantation center and the home of many of the early leaders of Texas.
Baylor University spent the first 41 years in that beautiful place, following its 1845 chartering by the Republic of Texas. Almost 20 colleges and universities were founded in Texas during the euphoric Republic period, when educational opportunities were eagerly sought in the new nation. Little did Baylor’s founders know that their beloved institution would be the only one to survive in an unbroken line into the 21st century. At 168 years, Baylor is the oldest continuously operating university in Texas.
Opened as a progressive, coeducational university, Baylor soon became a more traditional institution with separate facilities for male and female students. Academy Hill housed academic and dormitory structures for the young women of Baylor, while nearby Windmill Hill across Independence Creek was the site of the men's campus. In 1866, the Female Department obtained a separate charter and its own board of trustees.
In 1886, due to changing transportation and economics in the area, it was deemed necessary to move both schools. The Male Department consolidated with Waco University in Waco, Texas, retaining the name Baylor University. The Female Department (Baylor Female College since the 1866 separation) moved to Belton, Texas, and later became the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
On Oct. 6, 2013, the institutions will commemorate the shared history of Baylor University and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and their mutual dedication to preserving the universities’ historic roots in Independence.
Each summer, incoming Baylor University freshmen attending Baylor Line Camp make the journey to Independence and the historic site of the university’s original campus. (Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing & Communications)
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for more than 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.