18 Fun Facts About Baylor University

Updated on March 1, 2024
Baylor University fun facts

Let’s dive into the intriguing world of Baylor University, a blend of historic charm and modern dynamism. Established in 1845, it’s not just the oldest university in Texas, but a pioneering force in education west of the Mississippi River.

Baylor stands out with its unique mix of Baptist traditions, commitment to research, and a vibrant student life, located in the heart of Waco, Texas. Its journey from a small institution to a globally recognized university is a testament to its resilience and dedication to shaping leaders.

In this article, we’ll explore 18 fun facts about Baylor University that make it more than just an educational institution—it’s a living, evolving legacy.

1. The Oldest University in Texas: A Legacy Since 1845

Baylor University, chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas, holds the honor of being the oldest continually operating university in Texas. The university was founded on the collective vision of key figures like Judge R. E. B. Baylor and Rev. James Huckins. It started in Independence, Texas, before moving to its current location in Waco.

Throughout its history, Baylor has evolved, maintaining its original Christian mission while adapting to changing times. It’s recognized as a “Doctoral University: Very High Research Activity” and is a testament to the rich educational heritage of Texas​​​​.

Snow on the Baylor campus, c. 1940s

Snow on the Baylor campus, c. 1940s. Image: baylor.edu

2. Choosing the School Colors: The Inspiration of Baylor’s Green and Gold

In 1897, Baylor University’s iconic green and gold colors were chosen, inspired by a picturesque view. A student committee member, traveling by train to a debate tournament, was captivated by the sight of lush green fields dotted with vibrant spring dandelions. This scenic beauty led to the selection of green and gold as Baylor’s official colors.

These colors have since become deeply embedded in Baylor’s identity, symbolizing academic growth, excellence, and the university’s rich tradition. They continue to be central to the Baylor brand, reflecting the university’s heritage and spirit.

Baylor University's colors

Image: masterstudies.com

3. The Immortal Ten: A Tragic and Heroic Tale

The story of the Immortal Ten is a poignant chapter in Baylor’s history. In January 1927, a tragic accident occurred when a train collided with a bus carrying Baylor students. Ten students lost their lives in this accident. This event deeply impacted the Baylor community and led to significant changes in transportation safety for university students.

The Immortal Ten are commemorated annually at Baylor, reminding the community of the preciousness of life and the strong bonds of the Baylor family. Their legacy is not just about the tragedy but also about resilience and the university’s commitment to student safety and well-being.

The Immortal Ten memorial at Baylor University

The Immortal Ten memorial at Baylor University. Image: baylorlariat.com

4. Dr. Pepper Hour: A Baylor Tradition

Baylor University’s Dr. Pepper Hour, a cherished tradition since 1953, offers students a delightful break every Tuesday with free Dr. Pepper floats. Originally known as “Coke Hour,” this weekly event became Dr. Pepper Hour in 1997, celebrating the local creation of Dr. Pepper.

Held in the Student Union Building’s Barfield Drawing Room, the same location where it began, this tradition fosters community and provides a sweet, refreshing pause in the students’ busy schedules.

Dr. Pepper Hour at Baylor University

Image: drpepperhourtour.com

5. The Baylor Bear Tradition: Celebrating a Unique Mascot

The Baylor Bear tradition began in 1914. The first live bear mascot, named Ted, was a gift from the 107th Engineers of the Army’s 32nd Division. This tradition was a novel concept in college sports mascots at the time and set Baylor apart.

The live mascots are named “Judge” after Judge R.E.B. Baylor. The current habitat, the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat, is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, showcasing Baylor’s commitment to exemplary animal care. This tradition has been a key part of Baylor’s identity for over a century.

Baylor University's live bear mascot in its habitat

Image: baylor.edu

6. A Unique Basketball Transfer: Makai Mason’s Baylor Leap

Makai Mason, once a Yale basketball standout, made an extraordinary transfer to Baylor University for the 2018-2019 season. His move was particularly notable because he had previously led Yale to a victory against Baylor in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

Mason’s transition from the Ivy League to a major program like Baylor’s not only highlighted his impressive skills on the court but also showcased a unique path in collegiate athletics. This transfer represented not just a change of teams for Mason but a significant shift in his basketball career, bringing a new dynamic to Baylor’s team.

Makai Mason playing for Baylor

Makai Mason playing for Baylor. Image: wvmetronews.com

7. Innovative Research in Space: Baylor’s Contribution to NASA

Baylor University has collaborated extensively with NASA, contributing to space research and exploration. This includes projects on space habitat design and studying the health impacts of spaceflight.

Baylor’s work with NASA underscores the university’s role in advancing our understanding of space and its commitment to contributing to important scientific discoveries.

Baylor University researchers working on NASA projects

Image: baylor.edu

8. The Baylor Line: More Than Just a Student Tradition

The Baylor Line tradition started in 1970 as a unique introduction for new students. It’s a symbolic gesture of inducting first-year students into the Baylor community.

Freshmen, wearing green and gold jerseys with their expected graduation year, form a tunnel to welcome the football team onto the field. This tradition fosters a sense of unity and tradition among Baylor students.

Baylor Line students in their jerseys at a football game

Image: baylorlariat.com

9. Baylor’s Unique Homecoming: Pioneering a College Tradition

Baylor’s Homecoming, starting in 1909, is one of the earliest collegiate homecomings in the U.S. The event traditionally includes a band concert, reunions, and a parade. The first Homecoming saw over 130 parade entries and a football game attended by nearly 5,000 people.

This annual event symbolizes Baylor’s spirit of community and tradition, uniting alumni and students in celebration​​​​.

Students join in on the homecoming festivities as part of the parade in 1940

Students join in on the homecoming festivities as part of the parade in 1940. Image: baylorlariat.com

10. The Heisman Trophy Winner from Baylor: A Moment of Pride

Robert Griffin III, affectionately known as RG3, created a historic moment for Baylor University in 2011 by becoming the first Baylor player to win the prestigious Heisman Trophy. His stellar junior season was marked by remarkable achievements both on and off the field.

RG3’s win was not only a significant accolade for him personally but also a symbol of Baylor’s growing stature in college football, bringing immense pride to the Baylor community​​​​.

A photo capturing the moment RG3 was announced as the Heisman Trophy winner

A photo capturing the moment RG3 was announced as the Heisman Trophy winner. Image: gainesville.com

11. Baylor’s Historic Judge Baylor Statue: A Symbol of Heritage

The statue of Judge R.E.B. Baylor, a co-founder of Baylor University, was unveiled on February 1, 1939, and stands as a significant symbol on campus. Created by sculptor Pompeo Coppini, it commemorates Judge Baylor’s contributions to the university and the state of Texas.

Judge Baylor, born in 1793, played multiple roles throughout his life, including that of a judge, a politician, and an ordained minister. His leadership and vision were instrumental in establishing Baylor University in 1845. The statue is a reminder of Baylor’s long history and its founders’ legacy.

Judge Baylor statue

The statue of Judge R.E.B. Baylor, crafted by Pompeo Coppini, unveiled during the Founders Day celebration at Baylor University in 1939. Image: texascooppower.com

12. Baylor in Hollywood: Alumni on the Silver Screen

Baylor University has a notable presence in Hollywood, with several alumni making significant contributions to the film and television industry. Some of the distinguished Baylor alumni in show business include:

  • Kevin Reynolds, a director known for films like “Fandango,” “Waterworld,” and “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.”
  • Derek Haas & Michael Brandt, screenwriters who worked on projects like “2 Fast 2 Furious.”
  • Bill Bickley, a writer/director involved in popular shows like “Step by Step” and “Family Matters.”
  • Clu Gulager, an actor with credits in films like “The Killers” and “The Last Picture Show.”
  • Mark Olsen, a writer whose work includes screenplays and novels.

These Baylor alumni have contributed to diverse genres and formats, showcasing the university’s influence in the entertainment industry.

Kevin Reynolds, Baylor University alumni

Baylor University alumnus Kevin Reynolds on the set of ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’. Image: IMDb

13. Majestic McLane Organ of Baylor University

The McLane Organ at Baylor University, situated in Jones Concert Hall, is an outstanding 4-manual, 92-rank instrument used for performances and teaching.

This magnificent organ, with its elaborate design and grand size, serves as a vital educational and artistic resource, enhancing the university’s commitment to musical excellence. It’s integral for student musicians’ learning, offering unparalleled opportunities for musical development and expression.

The McLane Organ is a symbol of Baylor’s rich musical heritage and its dedication to nurturing talent in the arts.

Baylor University McLane Organ

Image: X.com

14. The Baylor University Golden Wave Band: A Musical Powerhouse

The Baylor University Golden Wave Band, established over a century ago, is renowned for its dynamic performances and significant contributions to the university’s spirit. The band, which got its name in 1928 due to new golden uniforms, began as a 28-piece military band in 1902. It evolved into the Baylor Bear Band during World War I and further flourished post-WWII under the leadership of Donald I. Moore.

The band gained international recognition and expanded under various directors, incorporating modern styles and growing in membership. Today, it stands as a symbol of Baylor’s vibrant musical culture and tradition.

15. Sustainability Efforts: Baylor’s Green Initiatives

Baylor University is committed to sustainability, aligning with its Christian mission to be stewards of creation. The university has implemented various ecologically-friendly practices across campus to promote environmental stewardship.

These efforts include recycling programs, energy and water efficiency measures, and the encouragement of sustainable living among the university community. Baylor’s dedication to sustainability reflects its broader commitment to responsible environmental management and education.

Baylor University Sustainability Efforts

Image: baylor.edu

16. Baylor’s Global Impact: Outreach and Missions Worldwide

Baylor University demonstrates a significant global impact through its extensive missions and outreach programs. The university offers over 40 discipline-specific mission trip opportunities in more than 20 locations worldwide, engaging students, faculty, and staff in various service activities.

These missions integrate academic learning with practical service, spanning diverse areas such as healthcare in the Dominican Republic, sports ministry in Costa Rica, and educational support in Zambia. Such initiatives underscore Baylor’s commitment to making a positive global impact, combining faith, service, and learning for transformative experiences.

Baylor Students to Serve Around the World

Image: baylor.edu

17. Baylor’s Towering Triumph: The Majestic Pyfer Bear Sculpture

Baylor University boasts a remarkable piece of art, the Pyfer Bear Sculpture, notable for its impressive size. Created by Dr. Douglas W. Crow, this 9-foot-tall, 1,200-pound bronze sculpture was installed in 2007 at the McLane Student Life Center. It represents a significant artistic achievement for Baylor, reflecting both the university’s commitment to the arts and its deep-rooted connection to its mascot.

The sculpture, which took nearly a decade to complete, is a striking symbol of Baylor’s spirit and pride, and it continues to be a point of interest on campus.

The Pyfer Bear Sculpture

Image: baylor.edu

18. Women’s Basketball Excellence: Baylor’s National Powerhouse

Baylor University’s women’s basketball team has distinguished itself as a formidable force in college sports. Known for their remarkable achievements, the team has claimed multiple NCAA tournament championships, including titles in 2005, 2012, and 2019. They’ve consistently demonstrated excellence with numerous Final Four and Elite Eight appearances, along with a historic undefeated season in 2012.

These accomplishments not only highlight the team’s prowess on the court but also Baylor’s commitment to fostering a high-caliber athletic program. Their success is a testament to the skill, dedication, and teamwork inherent in Baylor’s basketball culture.

Baylor’s women's basketball team

Image: ourdailybears.com


What is special about Baylor University?

Baylor University, located in Waco, Texas, stands out for its strong sense of community and commitment to Christian values. It’s known for its high-quality education, blending rigorous academic programs with a faith-based learning environment. Baylor offers a unique experience through its diverse range of student organizations, including religious groups, service clubs, and Greek life. Its picturesque campus and state-of-the-art facilities provide a conducive environment for both academic and personal growth.

Why is Baylor University so famous?

Baylor University is famous for its blend of excellent academic programs and strong Christian principles. It’s one of the oldest continuously operating universities in Texas and is renowned for its research contributions, especially in the fields of health sciences, business, and law. Baylor is also well-known for its successful athletic programs, particularly in basketball and football, which have garnered national attention. The university’s commitment to community service and global outreach further enhances its reputation.

What are 3 most popular majors at Baylor University?

The three most popular majors at Baylor University are typically Business, Biology, and Nursing. The Business program, particularly in areas like finance and marketing, is highly regarded for its comprehensive curriculum and career preparedness. Biology is a cornerstone of Baylor’s strong science department, attracting students interested in medicine and research. Nursing is another popular major, with the Louise Herrington School of Nursing in Dallas providing excellent clinical and academic training.

How did Baylor University get its name?

Baylor University was named after Judge R.E.B. Baylor, a district judge and Baptist minister, who was one of the university’s founding fathers. The university was established in 1845 by the Republic of Texas, following a petition by the Texas Baptist Education Society. Judge Baylor, along with Rev. William Milton Tryon and James Huckins, was instrumental in the founding of the university, leading to its naming in his honor. The university’s strong Baptist heritage has been a defining aspect of its identity since its inception.

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