A History of Community
Baylor's links with the Waco community were forged in 1886 when the University relocated from Independence, Texas, to consolidate with Waco University. This was part of the drive during the early 1880s by Texas Baptists to consolidate the more than 35 denominational organizations that were operating across the state, many with similar responsibilities. Waco University and Baylor University were the two leading Baptist higher education institutions and, after extended negotiations, the two schools were unified and opened in Waco under the name Baylor University in September 1886.
Four decades later, the links between Baylor and the Waco community were tested when plans were considered to move the institution from Waco to Dallas on the basis that its future development would be better served in a larger metropolitan location.
The proposed move gained support and was viewed favorably by many within the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Baylor President Samuel Palmer Brooks initially remained neutral on the matter. However, in 1928 he expressed what many felt were his true feelings. "Waco businessmen will not desert the old school," he said. "They will give their money for its enlargement and perpetuity. They desire no disruption in the sympathetic cooperation long established between the citizens and the institution. Of course, they want it to remain in Waco, and they do not believe it will move now or ever!"
Waco and Central Texas citizens rallied to the call, pledging their support for the retention of "their university" in Waco. Despite the harsh economic climate of the Great Depression, their efforts translated into tangible financial backing when the aptly named Waco Hall was dedicated on May 27, 1930. Its $387,000 cost was paid principally by the citizens of Waco. Further expressions of generous community support came through the years, culminating in 1945 with the formation of the Waco Baylor Foundation. This foundation was reestablished as the Baylor/Waco Foundation in 1959 and through the years has proved to be enormously successful in organizing major fundraising efforts to benefit the University and the community.
The close bond that exists between Baylor and the Central Texas community has stood the test of time for more than 117 years, thanks to the citizens who saw the wisdom of supporting a fledgling center of learning in their midst. Today, as an internationally acclaimed Christian university, Baylor produces scholars who, in turn, pledge their support and skills to the betterment of humankind.
Baylor, ably assisted by the supportive and caring attitude of its Waco and Central Texas neighbors, is on track to make that difference felt around the world.