Baylor University, or simply Baylor, is a private Christian university in Waco, Texas. Chartered in 1845 by the last Congress of the Republic of Texas, it is the oldest continuously operating university in Texas and one of the first educational institutions west of the Mississippi River in the United States. Located on the banks of the Brazos River next to I-35, between the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and Austin, the university's 1,000-acre campus is the largest Baptist university campus in the world. Baylor University's athletic teams, known as the Bears, participate in 19 intercollegiate sports. The university is a member of the Big 12 Conference in the NCAA Division I. It was associated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas but no longer.|
In 1851, Baylor's second president Rufus Columbus Burleson decided to separate the students by sex, making the Baylor Female College an independent and separate institution. Baylor University became an all-male institution. During this time, Baylor thrived as the only university west of the Mississippi offering instruction in law, mathematics, and medicine. At the time a Baylor education cost around $8–$15 per term for tuition. And many of the early leaders of the Republic of Texas, such as Sam Houston, would later send their children to Baylor to be educated. Some of those early students were Temple Lea Houston, son of President Sam Houston, a famous western gun-fighter and attorney; and Lawrence Sullivan "Sul" Ross famous Confederate General and later President of Texas A&M University.
Beginning in 1885, Baylor University moved to Waco, Texas, a growing town on the railroad line. It merged with a local college called Waco University. At the time, Rufus Burleson, Baylor's second president, was serving as the local college's president. That same year, the Baylor Female College also was moved to a new location, Belton, Texas. It later became known as the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. A Baylor College Park still exists in Independence in memory of the college's history there. Around 1887, Baylor University began readmitting women and became coeducational again.
Several Baylor graduate programs, including its law school, Hankamer School of Business and programs in the sciences and education are nationally ranked. According to the National Research Council (NRC), among those programs, Baylor's Graduate program in English was ranked first for Student Support and Outcomes by the National Research Council, and Baylor's Doctoral program in Sociology was ranked third nationally, based on criteria such as the percentage of students receiving full financial support, PhD completion percentage, median time to completion of degrees, and job placement rate.
The Baylor University Golden Wave Band (BUGWB) is the halftime entertainment for Baylor football. The 340-member band attends every home football game and sometimes travels to away games. The band's name dates back to 1928 when, while on tour in West Texas, observers noted that the band members' gold uniforms looked like a giant "golden wave" sweeping over the landscape.
In July 1948, the Air Force and Baylor University partnered in the creation of Air Force ROTC Detachment 810 - one of the first detachments ever created. In 2008, Detachment 810 was awarded the Air Force ROTC Right Of Line Award as the No. 1 large detachment in the nation. The unit was additionally awarded the High Flight Award, recognizing it as one of the top four detachments in America. It has been named best in the AFROTC Southwest Region for 1996, 2003 and 2008.
The university's endowment passed $1 billion in 2007 and reached $1,055,478,000 on December 31, 2007. Even with the economic crisis of 2008, Baylor spokesperson Lori Fogleman reported that Baylor's endowment grew 5.1 percent in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008; the National Association of College and University Business Officials estimated that during that same period, the median return for the top 25 percent of college endowments decreased by 2.2 percent. Fogleman cited the university's long-term investments and diversified holdings as the cause of the endowment's success. Despite a hired consulting firm's concerns that the troubled economy and disagreements within the Baylor community could hinder continued growth, the university's endowment exceeded $1.1 billion as of May 2013.
The university has won NCAA titles in 2004, 2005 and 2012. The men's tennis team defeated UCLA in the 2004 championship match to garner the Baylor's first title. One year later, the Baylor Lady Bears basketball team beat Michigan State in the championship game and was subsequently named as the only women's team to be nominated for a 2005 "Best Team" ESPY. In 2012, the Baylor Lady Bears basketball team beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the NCAA National Championship; the first college basketball team to ever finish with a perfect 40-0 record.
Baylor's four major programs (football, men's and women's basketball, and baseball) finished with an NCAA record 129 wins during the year (and an overall record of 129-28 for a winning percentage of .822) and Baylor was the only school to have all four programs ranked at the end of their respective seasons. The football and (men's and women's) basketball programs also set NCAA records with a combined 80 wins between them, including a stretch from November 1, 2011 to January 16, 2012, when the three programs had 40 consecutive wins between them.
The Thursday night of Homecoming Week, new Baylor students (Freshmen and Transfers) attend a mass meeting in Waco Hall where they learn about the Immortal Ten, the ten student athletes who died in a bus-train accident in Round Rock, Texas, on January 22, 1927. After the Mass Meeting, the freshmen class build a bonfire on Fountain Mall which often includes burning vigils of the homecoming football opponent's mascot created by the various on campus houses.