The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor traces its distinguished history to the days when Texas had yet to gain statehood and when Baptist missionary work was just beginning in the partially civilized new territory. As early as 1839, representatives of churches in Washington County issued an appeal to the Home Mission Board of New York to inaugurate a missionary movement in Texas. Missionaries Rev. James Huckins and Rev. William M. Tryon were sent, and soon afterwards, Judge R.E.B. Baylor came to Texas as a teacher, lawyer, soldier and preacher. These leaders inspired the desire for Christian education in the area and, at a meeting of the Union Association in 1841, recommended forming an education society. War prevented action until 1843, when the Texas Baptist Education Society was organized.
Tryon and Baylor were appointed to prepare a charter to establish a Baptist university. On February 1, 1845, a charter was granted by the 9th Congress of the Republic of Texas, approved by President Anson Jones at Washington-on-the-Brazos, and the long-awaited Baptist university became a reality. The school initially included a Preparatory Department in addition to co-educational classes for college students. In 1851, the Female Department and the Male Department were separated, ending co-education. In 1866, the Female Department obtained a separate charter and its own board of trustees, and the name was changed to Baylor Female College.
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, under its new name, Baylor Female College, moved to Belton, Texas. Since the move to Belton, the school has undergone several name changes, including Baylor College for Women (1925), Mary Hardin-Baylor College (named in honor of a benefactor in 1934), and University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (1978). In 1971, the oldest college for women west of the Mississippi became co-educational.
UMHB’s illustrious history includes such notable occurrences as claiming the first work-study program for women in a college west of the Mississippi (1893); serving as the campus model for the Baptist Student Union (1920); establishing the first school of journalism in a college for women in America and being the second institution in Texas to offer the degree of Bachelor of Journalism (1921); hosting and winning the first intercollegiate debate between college women in Texas (1921); and being recognized as the first Texas Baptist college accepted into full membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (1926). Since these auspicious “firsts,” UMHB has continued to make history as a leader in the fields of education, nursing, business, and church leadership; in athletics through conference and national play; and in other important areas of campus life. Today, UMHB enjoys a robust student enrollment of more than 3,400 and employs more than 400 full-time faculty and staff committed to Christian higher education.
Presidents have included Dr. H. L. Graves, Dr. R. C. Burleson, Rev. G. W. Baines, Dr. William Carey Crane, Mr. B. S. Fitzgerald, Dr. Horace Clark, Col. W. W. Fontaine, Dr. William Royall, Dr. John Hill Luther, Mr. P. H. Eager, Dr. E. H. Wells, Dr. W. A. Wilson, Dr. E. G. Townsend, Dr. J. C. Hardy, Dr. Gordon S. Singleton, Dr. Albert C. Gettys, Dr. Arthur K. Tyson, Mr. Leonard L. Holloway, Dr. William G. Tanner, Dr. Bobby E. Parker, Dr. Jerry G. Bawcom, and Dr. Randy O’Rear who became president in 2009.
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor is located in the “heart of Texas,” only 55 miles from the State capital of Austin and 135 miles from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex on Interstate 35. The campus is nestled in the natural beauty of Central Texas’ rolling plains and wooded hills and captures the spirit of scholarly pursuit within its historic buildings and spacious, well-maintained campus. The Belton-Temple-Killeen area is home to many corporations, hospitals and medical complexes, industries, and service agencies where students may find employment or internship opportunities. Two large shopping malls are only minutes from campus as is the quaint artisan village of Salado. Dining and entertainment, including the Bell County Expo Center, are just minutes from campus. Recreational opportunities are easily found at Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow Lake as well as several 18-hole golf courses within the area.
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor prepares students for leadership, service, and faith-informed discernment in a global society. Academic excellence, personal attention, broad-based scholarship and a commitment to a Baptist vision for education distinguish our Christ-centered learning community.
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor will be the university of choice for Christian education in the Southwest.
Broad-based Education. We believe an educated person is one who not only has mastered a chosen field of study but also has gained an understanding and appreciation for the intellectual and cultural traditions of a diverse world. Through traditional liberal arts programs and professional programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, the university seeks to develop graduates of strong Christian character and integrity who are able to communicate effectively, think critically, and solve complex problems. In addition, we strive to inspire a lifelong love for learning so that graduates may face challenges successfully in an ever-changing world.
Christian Faith and the Intellectual Life. We recognize that all truth, whether revealed in Scripture or creation, has its origin in God. Since all truth is grounded in God, we believe that the pursuit of truth and the Christian faith are mutually reinforcing. We strive to develop graduates who integrate Christian perspectives and attitudes into every dimension of life: character, relationships, vocation, and service. To empower students to integrate a passionate Christian faith with human knowledge, we dedicate ourselves not only to grounding them in the basics of Scripture and in the historical beliefs of the Christian faith, but also to broadening their horizons, deepening their insight, sharpening their intellect, and cultivating their ability to appreciate the good, the true, and the beautiful. We seek committed Christians for our faculty and staff who will support the university’s mission and who will be active participants in their local church. In short, our goal is to produce graduates who love God with their whole mind.
Teaching Excellence. We value well-qualified educators who are committed to effective, innovative teaching that prepares students to excel in their particular fields, to think creatively and critically, and to integrate facts across disciplines. Our faculty members exhibit an intellectual curiosity and passion for their fields of study which, in turn, stimulate our students to excel academically. To that end, the university is committed to maintaining an atmosphere of academic freedom and providing faculty members with resources and opportunities to enhance teaching effectiveness and to be engaged in a wide range of scholarly activities. The university seeks to identify, recognize, and reward those faculty members who exhibit exceptional teaching ability.
Service. We value our role as a Christ-centered university which addresses educational, cultural, civic, and economic needs by providing service opportunities for students, faculty, and staff. We strive to instill within students an awareness of people in need and a commitment to seeking solutions, both locally and globally.
Students as Individuals. We respect each student as a unique individual who has a distinct perspective on the world. Therefore, we welcome students from diverse backgrounds and understand that exposure to different cultures and experiences within a Christian environment enrich the educational process. The university strives to create an atmosphere where every student is an integral part of our learning community. We place student achievement first and emphasize this through personal attention, small class sizes, teaching excellence, campus activities, athletic programs, and leadership opportunities. The university is committed to encouraging each student to reach his or her potential spiritually, academically, socially, and physically.