On April 26, 1934, the president of the Baylor Ex-Students Association, Dr. Kenneth Aynesworth, proposed to alumni that a student union building be built on campus in time for Baylor’s centennial in 1945. He said the building would become the center of social activities on campus as well as a place where alumni might gather.
In February 1936, Dr. Aynesworth called an informal meeting of loyal Baylor supporters to challenge them with the lack of facilities for student social life on the Baylor campus. The group immediately agreed to form a fundraising organization called the Baylor Centennial Foundation, with the first project to be raising funds to build a student union building.
On June 1, 1940, groundbreaking ceremonies for the new student union building were held on Carroll Field, Baylor’s old athletic field no longer in use that would make way for the building. Construction eventually began in 1941, and on Dec. 3, 1941, the cornerstone of the building was leveled by the Grand Lodge of Texas.
Four days later the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and construction on the union building was halted as the U.S. entered World War II. Construction resumed after the war and the building, known as the Student Union Building, was put into use in 1947. The new building included a cafeteria, tea room, barbershop and bowling alley, as well as the Baylor Bookstore and offices for the Baylor Ex-Students Association. Lily Russell was named the first SUB dean on Sept. 1, 1948.
The formal opening ceremony for the SUB was held on Sept. 16, 1948. In appreciation of Gov. Bill Daniel’s contributions throughout the years to Baylor, University trustees voted in 1982 to rename the building the Bill Daniel Student Center.