Baylor University: 2015 in Review

For the third year in a row, we offer a quick look at some of the more memorable events that took place at Baylor University during the previous year — 2015 — as compiled by Randy Fiedler of the College of Arts & Sciences.

We’d like to begin by remembering those Baylor Bears who passed on during 2015, including Dean Diana Garland, Dean and Vice President Emeritus Richard Scott, former Regents Winfred Moore and Bill Bailey, Baylor benefactors Billy Williams, Billy Ray Hearn and Ralph Storm, poet Jane Hoogestraat and retired faculty members Dr. C. Wallace Christian, Dr. Paul T. Armitstead, Dr. John C. Park, Dr. Elden R. Barrett, Dr. Lois Marie Sutton and Matt “Mad Dog” Dawson.


–January 1–Fifth-ranked Baylor (11-1) faces No. 8 Michigan State (10-2) in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. It’s the first Cotton Bowl appearance by the Bears since 1981. Baylor loses in the final seconds, 42-41, but in postseason rankings the Bears will finish at No. 7 in the AP Top 25 and No. 8 in the USA Today Poll. The No. 7 ranking is the highest in postseason history for Baylor.

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–January 19–Baylor announces that former U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who represented Virginia’s 10th District in Congress from 1981 until his retirement on Jan. 3, has been named the Jerry and Susie Wilson Chair in Religious Freedom. As the Wilson Chair, Wolf will lead Baylor’s efforts on Capitol Hill and throughout the world to address the significant issues of freedom of conscience and worship and, in particular, Christianity’s enduring role in promoting human freedom.

Frank Wolf

–January 24–The Baylor Quidditch Association hosts “Brooms on the Brazos,” the first Quidditch tournament ever held at Baylor, on the Baylor Science Building fields. Texas A&M, UTSA and Loyola are among the schools represented. The second annual Brooms on the Brazos tournament is scheduled for Jan. 30, 2016.

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–January 25–In its ranking of “The Top 25 Games of the 2014 Season,” Sports Illustrated lists the Baylor-TCU game on Oct. 11 (Baylor 61, TCU 58) as No. 1, calling it “a high-flying shootout for the ages.”

–January 26–Baylor University and Collin College announce the creation of a formal Baylor Bound transfer agreement that will help students transfer more easily between the two institutions. Collin College Interim District President Colleen Smith and Baylor President Ken Starr sign the partnership agreement during a ceremony in the Collin Higher Education Center on the McKinney campus. Baylor is creating 10 Baylor Bound partnerships with strong Texas community colleges over the next five years, and the Baylor-Collin College agreement is the University’s fourth partnership.

Collin College

–January 27–Baylor officials join officials from the City of Waco and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in a groundbreaking for the new Brazos River Demonstration Wetland. Over three years, scientists will use 12 acres around the Waco Metropolitian Area Regional Sewer System to test natural methods of removing pharmaceuticals from treated wastewater. The $2.5 million project, which will open in the summer of 2015, was created as a partnership between the three groups.

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–February 1–Baylor University celebrates its 170th birthday. Baylor’s charter was signed Feb. 1, 1845, by Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic of Texas.

–February 4–Baylor President Ken Starr welcomes Catholic University of America President John Garvey and Yeshiva University President Richard Joel for an “On Topic” conversation on “The State of Higher Education: The Calling of Faith-based Universities.” The event is held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

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–February 13–Baylor Regents authorize $19 million to refurbish Penland Residential Hall, with the work to be done during the 2015-2016 academic year while the facility is closed. The refurbishment will include updated rooms with new furniture and fixtures; new study, social and spiritual spaces; apartments for faculty-in-residence and a resident chaplain; and new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. Regents also approve $4.6 million to complete renovations to Memorial Dining Hall, which will include expanding the dining hall to 22,000 square feet and seating for 600 students, adding more food platforms and finishing upgrades. Construction will begin in May and will be completed before the fall 2015 semester. Finally, Regents approve $7.2 million to upgrade the Baylor Energy Complex and Electrical Substation and a new doctoral degree –– the Ed.D. in K-12 Educational Leadership.

–February 15–About 50 Baylor students gather in front of the Bill Daniel Student Center to take part in a candlelight service mourning the loss of three University of North Carolina students from gun violence earlier in the week.

–February 21––With its 91-75 win over TCU in the Ferrell Center, the No. 3-ranked Baylor Lady Bears basketball team (26-1, 15-0) clinches outright its fifth straight Big 12 regular season title.

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–February 25––A morning snowfall blankets the campus, but no closures are required.

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–February 25–President Ken Starr announces that after a six-month nationwide search, Dr. Todd D. Still, professor of Christian scriptures and The William M. Hinson Chair of Christian Scriptures at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, has been appointed as Truett Seminary’s fifth dean. Still has served on the Truett faculty since 2003 and is serving his third term as faculty Regent on the Baylor Board of Regents.

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–February 26–The Baylor Lariat launches its first television newscast at 11 a.m. CST. Baylor is one of 12 universities from four continents taking part in a Global News Relay, an international relay from campus newsroom to campus newsroom around the globe that focuses on poverty issues in the cities and countries of each university. The event is coordinated by Sarah Jones, a professor at the University of Salford in the United Kingdom. It is part of the Quays TV News department at the university and is coordinated by two British students.


MARCH 2015

–March 4––Baylor senior distance runner Rachel Johnson is named one of three women’s Big 12 Performers of the Year in track and field.


–March 9–The Baylor Lady Bears beat Texas 75-64 in the Big 12 Tournament finals in Kansas City to clinch their fifth Big 12 basketball tournament championship in a row. It is the seventh Big 12 tournament title for the Lady Bears, who increase their record to 30-3.

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–March 18––President Starr holds an On Topic event at the Baylor Club in McLane Stadium with former U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, the inaugural Jerry and Susie Wilson Chair in Religious Freedom at Baylor.

–March 19––Following a nine-month national search, Baylor Provost and Executive Vice President David E. Garland announces the appointment of Dr. Michael K. McLendon as dean of the Baylor School of Education. He will begin service on July 1, succeeding Dr. Jon Engelhardt, who is retiring after eight years as dean. McLendon currently holds the Harold and Annette Simmons Centennial Chair in Higher Education Policy and Leadership at SMU and serves as dean of SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development.


–March 19–President Ken Starr takes part in the Global Religious Freedom Summit at Baylor, a panel discussion featuring Starr, former Congressman Frank Wolf and Bob Fu, president and founder of the China Aid Association. The three men discuss the plight of those facing religious persecution around the world.

–March 19–The Baylor men’s basketball team ends its 24-10 season with a 57-56 loss to Georgia State in the first round of the NCAA basketball Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla.

–March 23––Ground is broken in downtown Round Rock on a new memorial constructed at the site of the 1927 “Immortal Ten” bus accident that will be dedicated as the Immortal Ten Bridge. The Union Pacific Railroad, whose trains run underneath the railroad bridge, donated $100,000 toward the cost of the project.


–March 23–Baylor’s Arna Bontemps Hemenway, an assistant professor of English, is announced as the 2015 winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for a distinguished first book of fiction for his critically acclaimed Elegy on Kinderklanier. He will receive the award on April 19 from Patrick Hemingway, son of the late Nobel Prize-winner Ernest Hemingway.

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–March 28––Hundreds of people attend an auction at Floyd Casey Stadium to buy its surplus used goods, including exercise equipment, furniture, food service equipment, big-screen TV monitors and hot tubs.

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–March 28–The Baylor equestrian team claims its third Big 12 championship since 2010 after beating Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship final in Fort Worth.

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–March 29––About 35,000 people attend The Gathering event on Palm Sunday at McLane Stadium, bringing together members from Waco-area churches. Ramiro Peña, senior pastor of Christ the King Baptist Church of Waco and an executive organizer of The Gathering, tells the crowd, “Tonight there is one church in Waco, made of all races and all social classes. Waco can become known for all its churches working together.” The keynote speaker is Tony Evans, senior pastor of the 9,000-member Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas.

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–March 29–For the second year in a row, Notre Dame beats the Lady Bears in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. The Lady Bears lose 77-68, and finish the season with a 33-4 record.

–March 30–Baylor announces the appointment of Dr. Gary Mortenson as the new dean of the Baylor School of Music. Mortenson currently serves as director of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance at Kansas State University, where he is professor of trumpet and has taught since 1989. He will begin service at Baylor on July 1, succeeding Baylor alumnus Dr. William V. May, who retired as dean in July 2014 before returning to the faculty as a professor of music.

School of Music - Dean Gary Mortenson – portrait – 07/08/2015

–March 30–A portion of 5th Street on campus, roughly stretching from Waco Creek through MP Daniel Esplanade to Marrs McLean Gym, is closed to allow for renovations to 5th Street provided for by an $8 million gift from Baylor alumnus Dr. Thomas J. Rosenbalm. The intersection of 5th Street and MP Daniel Esplanade is expected to reopen May 25, and the closure does not affect Diadeloso activities.

APRIL 2015

–April 1–Baylor announces a lead gift by Louise “Lou” Herrington Ornelas of Tyler that makes possible the purchase of the Baptist General Convention of Texas building in Dallas for use as the new home for Baylor’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing. “I gave the gift because I love the nursing school students,” Ornelas says.

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––April 2–The Baylor Lariat reports that crews recently turned on the decorative LED light system that illuminates the Interstate 35 access road bridges in Waco. The bridges are bathed in color-changing lights, slowly shifting from scarlet to violet to indigo. Baylor paid $500,000 for the system, which can be programmed to glow in a rainbow of colors –– even green and gold when the Bears play next door at McLane Stadium. TXDOT and Baylor officials say the new LED lighting system is still in the testing phase and won’t be fully operational until May.

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–April 5–Dr. Joel C. Gregory, professor of preaching at Truett Seminary, preaches his sermon “The Incognito Christ” in two Easter Sunday services at Kensington Temple London City Church, the largest church congregation in London.

Joel Gregory – portrait – Truett – 06/13/2014

–April 6–National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis tours the Waco Mammoth Site and declares it “a fantastic park” that he will recommend it to become part of the national park system. After an hour-long tour of the site and a public meeting at the Mayborn Museum, Jarvis says that he soon will ask the Interior Department to seek President Obama’s approval this year to make the mammoth site a national monument. The standing-room-only crowd at the meeting includes Paul Barron, who co-discovered the site as a teenager in 1978. He says that when he found the first bones, he took them to Baylor’s natural history museum, because, “I thought, ‘The world has to see this,’ ” he tells the crowd.

–April 11-12–Baylor Theatre holds its first-ever 24-Hour Play Festival, where student playwrights, directors and actors create and perform five new plays in a 24-hour period.

–April 14–In a runoff election, Houston junior Pearson Brown is elected the 2015-2016 student body president.

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–April 17–During the annual Jeanes Academic Week Honors Convocation, Dr. David Lyle Jeffrey, Distinguished Professor of Literature and Humanities in the Honors College, is honored as the 12th recipient of the Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year Award.


–April 18––The No. 2 seeded Baylor equestrian team falls short in a 10-6 loss to South Carolina in the NCEA Championship semifinals at the Extraco Center in Waco. The Big 12 champs finish with a 14-5 final record on the season.

–April 18––The No. 2 Baylor men’s tennis team (20-4, 4-1) beats Texas Tech at the Hurd Tennis Center to claim a share (with No. 1 Oklahoma) of the Big 12 regular season title for the third straight year and the 12th time in the last 14 years.

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–April 19––The eighth-ranked Baylor women’s tennis team shuts out Kansas State, 4-0, to win the Big 12 regular season title outight at the Hurd Tennis Center. The victory gives Baylor (22-6, 8-1) its 11th Big 12 regular season trophy. It’s the third straight Big 12 crown and the ninth in 10 years for women’s tennis.

–April 20–Crews begin extending the construction fencing along Fifth Street from McLean Gym all the way to Speight Circle. Bicycles and mopeds are no longer able to travel on the street, and the construction fencing closes the sidewalk on the Burleson Quadrangle side of Fifth Street. The only crossing of the street between MP Daniel Esplanade and Speight Circle is a walkway near Carroll Sciences and Morrison Hall.

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–April 21–On the first of two required readings, the Waco City Council approves the concept plan and planned unit development zoning for a five-story, $40 student housing project to be located at 1102 Speight Avenue, on the site of the old HEB grocery store. Chuck Carroll, vice president of development for American Campus Communities, says the apartment complex will be smartly designed, with a multilevel parking garage concealed inside. The City Plan Commission had recommended the project by a 7-3 vote, with some dissenting members saying the area was becoming overbuilt with student housing.

–April 23––Baylor University and Temple College announce the creation of a formal Baylor Bound transfer agreement that will help students transfer more easily between the two institutions. Temple College President Glenda Barron and Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr sign the partnership agreement during a ceremony in the Leopard Room at the Pavilion at Temple College.

Temple College

–April 24––During the annual School of Social Work Family Dinner, an announcement is made that Baylor’s Board of Regents has voted to name the school in honor of its inaugural dean, Dr. Diana R. Garland. The School is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. “The board’s decision to name the School of Social Work in Dr. Garland’s honor is a way to extend our profound thanks and appreciation for her years of service; but it’s also a way we can show future generations of Baylor Social Work students that they have a place to come and learn and make a difference because Dr. Garland chose to devote her life’s work to their continued success,” says Regents chair Richard S. Willis.


–April 25––The top-ranked and top-seeded Baylor Acrobatics & Tumbling team defeats the Oregon Ducks to claim to the program’s first-ever NCATA Championship. The Bears down the Ducks, 286.690-282.870, at Fairmont State’s Joe Retton Arena in Fairmont, W.Va. The national crown marks Baylor Athletics’ fourth team national championship as BU men’s tennis won the program’s first team national championship in 2004 and women’s basketball won NCAA titles in 2005 and 2012. The win marks Baylor’s third victory over Oregon during the season and denies the defending champion Ducks a fifth national crown. The Bears finish the season with a perfect 12-0 record.


–April 25–A private family ceremony is held to celebrate the completion of Baylor’s new Elliston Chapel –– members of the Elliston family and a few Baylor representatives attend. The Department of Spiritual Life will publicly celebrate the completion with gatherings and services on April 28-30, including “Prayers for the Persecuted” on April 28 and a Vespers sunset prayer service on April 29.

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–April 26––For the second-straight year and the eighth time in program history, the eighth-ranked Baylor women’s tennis team claims the Big 12 Championship title with a 4-0 victory over No. 16 Texas Tech at the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center in Waco. Baylor improves to 25-6 with the win and 18-2 in home matches.

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–April 26––The Baylor women’s golf team wins its first-ever conference title by shooting 3-over-par 867 in the Big 12 Conference Championship at The Dominion Country Club. Baylor enters the final round with a 10-stroke lead and shoots 9-over-par 293 today, claiming the tournament championship by 12 strokes. Baylor’s first-round score of 282 is the lowest first round score in Big 12 Championship history, and BU sets the event’s 36-hole record at 573. This marks the 64th Big 12 Championship in Baylor history.

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–April 28–Four Baylor film and digital media students –– graduate students Clint Keller, Zachary Korpi and Brynn Sankey, and undergraduate Darien Wulf –– are named to Variety magazine’s “110 Students to Watch” list.

–April 28–Joseph Lieberman, former U.S. senator from Connecticut and the 2000 Democratic vice president nominee, is the guest in the spring “On Topic” series with President and Chancellor Ken Starr in Waco Hall. They begin their conversation with a “tale of two cities,” as Starr puts it, discussing the current controversies surrounding the protests in Baltimore and the Supreme Court decision on same sex-marriage laws.


–April 29–Students, faculty and staff gather in the SUB Bowl for a candlelight prayer vigil in support of the victims of a devastating earthquake in Nepal that took place on April 25.

MAY 2015

–May 2–Former Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty is chosen by the New York Jets in the fourth round of the NFL draft with the 103rd overall pick.

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–May 2–The No Limits Monster Truck World Championship is held in McLane Stadium.

–May 5–Jerry Clements (JD ’81), chair of the international firm Locke Lord, is honored by the Baylor Law Alumni Association Executive Committee as the 2015 Baylor Lawyer of the Year at a luncheon in Austin. Clements serves on the Baylor Board of Regents.

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–May 6–Baylor announces a gift of $2 million from Matthew B. Lindner and his father, Carl H. Lindner III, of Cincinnati, Ohio, to create the Matthew B. Lindner Endowment for Excellence in Film and Digital Media. The gift will help make the Film and Digital Media program, currently housed within the Department of Communication, a freestanding department within the College of Arts & Sciences, effective June 1. Matthew Lindner and his father, Carl, each gave $1 million as part of the collective gift to the University.

–May 8–Comet Signs of Dallas installs Baylor University’s name in 5-foot-tall letters to the outer wall of McLane Stadium under the name of the facility. Previously, only “McLane Stadium” had adorned the façade.

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–May 11–Baylor University and Alamo Colleges announce the creation of a formal Baylor Bound transfer agreement to help students transfer more easily between the two institutions. The agreement is signed by Baylor President and CEO Ken Starr during a ceremony at Alamo Colleges in San Antonio. This is the sixth Baylor Bound partnership of the 10 Baylor intends to create as part of the Pro Futuris strategic initiative.

Alamo Colleges

–May 12–Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw is announced as one of 28 winners for the 2014-15 Under Armour AD of the Year (ADOY) as selected by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).

Press Conference

–May 14-25–For the first time, Baylor University hosts the NCAA Tennis Championships at Hurd Tennis Center.

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–May 15–Baylor Regents vote to establish a new PhD program in entrepreneurship in the Hankamer School of Business and approve $1.1 million for the design and construction of the Simpson Strength and Performance Center in the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center. The Center will be located in the renovated and expanded weight room in the Simpson Athletics and Academics Center. The project will include new space dedicated to sports nutrition and applied performance along with equipment and technology upgrades.

–May 27–Baylor women’s golf finishes second in the NCAA Championship tournament –– the best finish in program history.

JUNE 2015

–June 1–Dr. Edwin Trevathan begins serving as Baylor’s executive vice president and provost.

Dr. Edwin Trevathan – Provost - portrait – outside Pat Neff – 06/01/2015

–June 1–The former Film and Digital Media program in the Department of Communication becomes the Department of Film and Digital Media, the 25th department in the Baylor College of Arts & Sciences. The founding chair is Professor Chris Hansen.

–June 2––Representatives from the Texas Department of Transportation, the City of Waco and Baylor University meet at 8:30 p.m. for a “flipping of the switch” ceremony officially inaugurating the new specialty lighting system installed on the two signature bridges across the Brazos River. Waco Mayor Malcom Duncan, TxDOT District Engineer Bobby Littlefield and Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr gather in the McLane Stadium Parking Lot A to flip the switch as members of the public watch, and the event is carried live on local television.

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–June 4––Baylor women’s golf freshman Dylan Kim, an 18-year-old from Plano, qualifies for the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open by tying for first place in a 66-player qualifying event at Dallas’ Lakewood Country Club. Kim will compete as an amateur at the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open July 6-12 at Lancaster Country Club in Lancaster, Pa.

2015 U.S. Women's Open

–June 12–Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw announces that Steve Rodriguez, the baseball coach at Pepperdine University for the previous 12 years, has been selected as Baylor’s 19th head baseball coach, succeeding Steve Smith. “We are excited to introduce Steve Rodriguez and welcome him and his family to Baylor,” McCaw says. “Steve is a dynamic leader, players’ coach, tireless recruiter and wonderful mission fit for our program. His highly successful coaching career and major league baseball playing experience will afford our student-athletes a rewarding experience as we build a championship program.”

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–June 13–Baylor Showtime!, the University’s song-and-dance ensemble that dissolved in spring 2011, holds a 30th anniversary reunion performance in the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center to benefit the endowment of a scholarship fund honoring former director Leta Horan and former choreographer Jerry Mauchlin. Almost three dozen Showtime! alumni perform in the show.

–June 15–The Charline Dauphin Pro Locker Room is dedicated in the Simpson Athletic Complex. The $500,000 locker room is for the exclusive use of former Baylor football players who moved on to the NFL when they come back to Waco to train or visit. The room has lockers with nameplates for 12 former Bears players, including quarterbacks Bryce Petty and Robert Griffin III.

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–June 23––Baylor announces that the Baylor Bear Foundation raised a record $16.2 million from private donors during the 2014-2015 academic year. Baylor says the amount will be enough to fully cover the scholarships of the University’s 19 intercollegiate sports for the first time. “This year’s record-breaking donor and fundraising totals demonstrate the passion Baylor Nation has for our student-athletes,” athletic director Ian McCaw says.

–June 26–The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics announces that Baylor earned 23rd place in the 2014-2015 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings with a school-record 767.75 points in the all-sports rankings. The finish is the best in Baylor history, and up from 31st place the previous year. Baylor won a school-record eight Big 12 championships during the 2014-2015 season.

JULY 2015

–July 1–Two new deans begin work at Baylor –– Dr. Gary Mortenson as dean of the Baylor School of Music and Dr. Michael K. McLendon as dean of the Baylor School of Education.

–July 10–President Barack Obama signs an executive order under the Antiquities Act of 1906 that turns the Waco Mammoth Site into the Waco Mammoth National Monument, incorporating the site into the national park system along with two other U.S. sites. Immediately after the signing, new National Park Service “arrowhead” signs go up on the site at 6220 Steinbeck Bend Road. Also after the event, Obama meets with Waco representatives, including Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr., Ellie Caston of the Mayborn Museum, Gayle Lacy of the Waco Mammoth Foundation and Tommye Lou Davis of Baylor University.


–July 11–Baylor quarterback Seth Russell beats out 38 other NCAA quarterbacks in the “Papa John’s Air-It-Out Quarterback Challenge” at the Manning Passing Academy’s 20th annual camp at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La. Russell is presented with the Spalding Golden Arm trophy from camp organizers Archie, Peyton, Eli and Cooper Manning.

NCAA Football: Kansas at Baylor

–July 13–Baylor Lady Bears basketball player Nina Davis and her teammates on Team USA post an 82-63 victory over Canada to win the sixth straight World University Games gold medal. The Baylor junior records an assist in her two minutes of action in the final. She averages five points and 2.8 rebounds in 10.5 minutes in the tournament to become the second Lady Bear to win World University Games gold. Odyssey Sims accomplished the feat in 2011 and again in 2013, when she was the tournament’s MVP.

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–July 16–In a letter delivered to Congress today, Baylor President Ken Starr joins a bipartisan group of leaders calling for a national strategy to address “international religious persecution that threatens people of faith worldwide.” Starr and two other Baptist leaders –– Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Community Church and Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, are among more than 30 religious leaders, scholars and public policy analysts signing the letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House John Boehner and Congressional minority leaders. The letter urges Congress to give greater authority to the ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.

–July 21–Baylor announces a gift of $10 million to the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders made by Baylor alumni who wish to remain anonymous. The gift will allow the department to move from its location in Neill Morris Hall to renovated space in the Cashion Academic Building, soon to be vacated by the Hankamer School of Business. The Baylor Speech and Hearing Clinic and all space for clinical work, classrooms and labs will be relocated to Cashion, and the gift will also create an endowed chair to attract a prominent scholar and visionary to direct the program’s growth.

–July 24--Baylor Regents approve spending $26 million to renovate the 164,000-square-foot Hankamer Cashion Complex. Renovation will begin in the fall, as faculty from the Hankamer School of Business move to the new Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation. Once renovated, the facility will house administration, faculty and clinic of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, the Department of Computer Science and the Center for Global Engagement. The first phase of renovation is expected to be completed in fall 2016.

–July 24––Baylor Regents appoint Sue Getterman of Waco (BA ’50) as Regent Emerita. She served three terms as Regent from 2001-2010.



–August 1–Baylor Law School is honored at the annual American Bar Association meeting with the 2015 ABA Pro Bono Publico Award, given to individual lawyers and institutions that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged. Since 2010, Baylor Law School students have devoted more than 3,600 recorded hours to pro bono efforts.

–August 19–Students move into the newly renovated North Russell Residence Hall. The building now houses the Baylor and Beyond Living-Learning Center, which was formerly called the Global LLC and located in Brooks Flats.

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–August 24–On the first class day of the fall 2015 semester, the renovated Memorial Dining Hall opens for business, and it is the first day of classes for the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation.

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–August 26–A Passing of the Mantle ceremony is held by Baylor’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing and the Baptist General Convention of Texas, “meant to exemplify BGCT passing its spiritual legacy with the community to the nursing school,” which is moving into the former BGCT headquarters. “The Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing will be blessed to carry on the legacy of faith and good works the Baptist General Convention of Texas has provided over the years in this beautiful facility,” says nursing school dean Shelley F. Conroy.


–September 1––Baylor freshman Kolby Kayworth, an 18-year-old Lorena resident majoring in business, is crowned America’s National Teenager during the 45th annual national pageant for the America’s National Teenager Scholarship Organization. By capturing the America’s National Teenager title, she will travel across the United States to speak and volunteer with various organizations.

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–September 3–At a campus luncheon, Baylor’s religion department celebrates 50 years of offering graduate studies. “Graduates of the Baylor PhD program in religion have made significant contributions in research, teaching and service in both church and academy,” says department chair Bill Bellinger.

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–September 10–Baylor President Ken Starr announces that Dave Rosselli, executive director of institutional advancement at the University of Southern California (USC), will join the president’s leadership team as vice president for university development, effective Nov. 2.

Dave Rosselli – portrait – 12/01/2015

–September 10–When bids are opened on a five-acre tract of land on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Interstate 35, across from McLane Stadium, Baylor University is the sole bidder. The City of Waco, which owns the land, was seeking to recoup the $2.8 million it spent to remove polluted soil from the site, which once was home to a pesticide plant. In lieu of cash for the land, Baylor offers to tear down Floyd Casey Stadium and deed the 80-acre site to the city for redevelopment. Baylor would then make a long-term ground lease of the MLK Boulevard site to Baylor Scott & White Health, which would build an “exercise science and sports medicine center of excellence.” Among other functions, the office building would house Southwest Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics, now located at Baylor Scott & White’s Hillcrest Medical Center. The privately run clinic is the team physician group for Baylor athletics.

–September 10–While waiting with her teammates for a flight to Ohio at DFW Airport, Baylor volleyball player Jana Brusek accepts an appeal to sign a huge inflatable football. As the 516th signer, Brusek is the person who breaks the Guinness World Record for the most signatures on a piece of sports memorabilia. She poses for photos with Dallas Cowboys great Drew Pearson, who is also one of the signers.

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–September 11–The day before Baylor’s home football opener against Lamar University, country singer Brad Paisley’s College Tour makes a stop in Waco with a free concert on Fountain Mall. It’s part of the annual Baylor Traditions Rally that includes a pep rally and fireworks show.

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–September 12–At Baylor’s home opener against Lamar University (which Baylor wins 66-31), 70-year-old Waco resident Howard Johnson gets his dying wish to attend a Baylor football game. Dying of kidney cancer, Johnson tells his hospice chaplain that he has watched the Bears since he was 10 years old, but had only been to one game. She put the word around, and eventually Baylor provided Johnson with free tickets. At the game, he gets to meet President and Mrs. Starr, and someone gives him Baylor game day apparel to wear and provides a tour of the stadium.

–September 14–Christian music singer and songwriter Bill Gaither speaks to Baylor students in Chapel in Waco Hall.

–September 15–The Waco City Council approves a new ordinance allowing Baylor Police to now enforce traffic laws on University private streets. By adopting the new ordinance, Baylor Police could enforce traffic laws on campus streets and have the option of issuing a ticket either through the Baylor University system or the Waco Municipal Court. Approval is pending with the Baylor Board of Regents.

–September 16–Officials figures released by the Office of Institutional Research and Testing show record numbers in fall 2015 for overall, graduate and undergraduate enrollment and for freshmen retention. A record number of 16,787 students are enrolled, topping last fall’s record enrollment of 16,263. This includes a record enrollment of 14,189 undergraduates and 2,598 graduate/professional enrollment. The latest retention rate from fall 2014 to fall 2015 has increased to a record 88.9 percent among Baylor’s first-time freshmen.

–September 21–Dr. Diana Garland, founding dean of the Baylor University School of Social Work, dies at 65 in Colorado after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She had stepped down as dean on Sept. 1. “Baylor University has lost a cherished, fiercely dedicated and visionary servant leader in Dr. Diana Garland, the inaugural dean of the School of Social Work, which now bears her name,” said President and Chancellor Ken Starr. Garland will be honored at public memorial service on Oct. 19.

–September 22–Ten Baylor faculty members take part in “10 for $10: Women on America’s Currency,” a panel discussion in Bennett Auditorium in which each faculty member nominates one famous American woman to replace Alexander Hamilton as the face of the $10 bill in 2020. The women suggested include Elanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Ida Tarbell, Zora Neale Hurston and Ida B. Wells.

–September 23––Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks with President Ken Starr as part of the “On Topic” series in Waco Hall.

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–September 23––The Baylor Wakeboarding club sports team wins the 2015 College Cable Nationals at BSR Cable Park in Waco, beating out Texas A&M, South Florida and two-time defending national champion Central Florida. Baylor also sweeps the individual national championships, with wins by Austin Frazee (advanced), Tori Broussard (women’s) and Marshal Lewis (open).

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–September 24––Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Dr. Diane Ravitch speaks in Waco Hall about equity in education as part of the of the Academy for Leader Development Lecture Series and the School of Education Distinguished Lecture Series.

–September 24–Baylor’s medical humanities program presents its first Lifetime Achievement Award in Medical Humanities to Dr. Eric Cassell, a distinguished physician, clinical professor and author who has written extensively about ethics, humanities and the intersection of philosophy and medicine. Cassell then presents an address titled “The Place of the Humanities in Medicine” in Powell Chapel of Truett Seminary.


–September 25–Baylor celebrates the dedication of the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation with a daylong celebration attended by many prominent alumni, including Paul Foster, Bob Simpson, Joel Allison and Ray Perryman.

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–September 28–Author and poet Jay Parini delivers Baylor’s 2015 Beall-Russell Lecture in the Paul and Jane Meyer Conference Center of the new business school campus.


–October 2––Members of the Baylor Symphony Orchestra perform a spontaneous rendition of the Christian hymn “Amazing Grace” at the center of Fountain Mall early in the afternoon, in memory of the shooting Oct. 1 at a community college in Oregon that left nine people dead. The conductor and organizer of the performance, Houston senior James Tabata, closes the performance with a prayer in front of several students that had stopped to listen on their commutes between classes.

–October 2––Grammy Award-winning Christian rapper Lacrae performs a concert in Waco Hall, featuring fellow Christian rapper Tedashii.

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–October 5–Baylor President Ken Starr joins U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and former first lady Laura Bush in speaking at an invitation-only dedication of the Waco Mammoth National Monument.

–October 8–Baylor Regents vote to rescind the honorary doctor of humane letters degree awarded to comedian Bill Cosby when he visited campus in 2003.

–October 11–Following their 66-7 victory over Kansas the day before, the Baylor Bears climb to a program-best No. 2 ranking in both the AP and Coaches Top 25 football polls, moving ahead of TCU, which falls to No. 3.

–October 11–Baylor football star Jack Lummus is posthumously inducted into the New York Giants Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Lummus’s Giants career consisted of nine games in 1941. He caught one pass for five yards for a Giants team that finished 8-3 before losing to the Bears in the NFL Championship Game on Dec. 21, two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Lummus gave up his football career to enlist in the Marines, and he was killed in action on Iwo Jima on March 8, 1945, when he stepped on a land mine and lost his legs. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in May 1946.

Jack Lummus

–October 13––The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education recognizes Baylor University as one of the top-performing colleges and universities in its 2015 Sustainable Campus Index, released today. Baylor receives Silver designation for its sustainability efforts and is named among the Rising STARS for demonstrating significant commitment to advancing sustainability.

–October 15–At a ceremony in the Baylor Sciences Building, the College of Arts & Sciences announces the inaugural class of 12 William Hillis Scholars in Biomedical Science.

Inaugural class of Hillis Scholars, 2015

–October 15–Cellist Yo-Yo Ma performs with the Waco Symphony Orchestra in Baylor’s Waco Hall.

–October 16––The $8.5 million Beauchamp Athletics Nutrition Center (BANC), which opened in August 2015, is formally dedicated with an official ribbon-cutting.

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–October 22–Because of impending thunderstorms and flash flood warnings in effect for the following two days in Waco, Baylor officials decide to cancel the Homecoming bonfire on Oct. 23 and the parade on Oct. 24. The Extravaganza and Pep Rally the night of Oct. 23 is moved off campus to the Waco Convention Center, but the football game against Iowa State on Oct. 24 takes place in McLane Stadium.

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–October 22––During Pigskin Revue, Meredith Dana, a senior from Lake Oswego, Ore., majoring in integrated studies in the School of Education, is crowned as 2015 Homecoming Queen.

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–October 22––At a dinner in the Meyer Conference Center in the new Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation, Baylor recognizes the recipients of its 2015-2016 Meritorious Achievement Awards. Chip (BBA ’98) and Joanna (BA ’01) Gaines are named Alumni of the Year, and the Founders Medal is awarded to Louise Herrington Ornelas (AHC ’92).

–October 23––At their Homecoming meeting, Baylor Regents announce a lead gift for and approve the first phase of a planned golf practice facility near campus. The facility will be named in honor of Billy Williams (BBA ’63) and his family of Naples, Fla., who provided a multimillion-dollar gift for the project. It will be located on a 14-acre site on University Parks Drive next to the Willis Family Equestrian Center and will include an on-site practice course, a driving range and a clubhouse. In other action, Regents approve restoring the Dallas-based Louise Herrington School of Nursing as a freestanding academic unit. The departments of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Health, Human Performance and Recreation will remain in Robbins College.

–October 23––Baylor University and the Baylor Chamber of Commerce unveil a 6×9’ artistic structure to immortalize the University’s Eternal Flame tradition, a revered part of Homecoming that honors the lives of the Baylor basketball players, known as the Immortal Ten, who were killed in a bus-train accident in 1927. The sculpture is the result of more than 300 hours of design and craftsmanship from Bryant Stanton of Stanton Studios and John Nickell of Nickell Metalsmiths. The 1,600-pound structure combines iron and sculpted steel to create three artistic flames surrounding a propane-fueled center torch. The design symbolizes the relationship between the past, present and future of this tradition.

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–October 23––The dedication of the Rosenbalm Fountain is held at the McMullen-Connally Faculty Center after being relocated because of rain. Donor Dr. Thomas J. Rosenbalm is on hand for the event, as well as his daughter, Dr. Laura Carpenter, and her husband, Dr. Robert Carpenter, and their two children, Paul and Rachel.

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–October 23––During a dedication ceremony in Room 200 of Jesse H. Jones Library, the room is renamed the Dennis Campbell Innovative Learning Space in honor of Dennis Campbell, a Baylor staff member who died in June 2015. Campbell joined Baylor in 2006 as senior academic consultant in the Electronic Library.

–October 23––During a dedication ceremony in Room B-309 of the Baylor Sciences Building, the room is renamed the Roger E. Kirk Conference Room by the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, in honor of the 57 years of service and contributions to Baylor by Dr. Kirk, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Statistics and Master Teacher.

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–October 25–After a weekend visit to Baylor, Lauren Cox, the 6-foot-4 Flower Mound senior who is the top-ranked women’s basketball recruit in the nation for the 2016 class, posts on Twitter that “after 5 great visits to 5 amazing programs, I’m blessed to say I have committed to Baylor University.” Cox says she plans to sign with Baylor when the NCAA’s early signing period opens Nov. 11. Cox took trips to a who’s who of women’s college basketball programs in Notre Dame, Tennessee, Louisville and Connecticut before finally heading to Baylor over the weekend.


–October 26––Baylor Athletics announces that starter Seth Russell, the nation’s top-rated quarterback, will undergo neck surgery and will miss the remainder of the season. Russell suffered damage to his cervical vertebra in the fourth quarter of Baylor’s 45-27 win over Iowa State in McLane Stadium on Oct. 24. Early in the day, Russell visits a specialist, who recommends surgery that has a typical recovery period of six months. The successful neck surgery will take place on Oct. 30.

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–October 28––Baylor Student Government places a book in the Bill Daniel Student Center that is signed by those wishing to offer sympathy to Baylor’s Big 12 rival, Oklahoma State University, in the wake of the traffic accident that killed four spectators during its Homecoming parade Oct. 24.

–October 28-30–The inaugural Robbins Case Competition in Healthcare Management is hosted by the Robbins Institute for Health Policy and Leadership at Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business. The competition brings together graduate students from nine universities across America to take part in a national case competition in healthcare management with a distinct financial emphasis. The team from Trinity University takes first place and wins a $12,000 prize. The Baylor team places third, winning $4,000.

–October 29––Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr joins Fifth Circuit Judge Thomas M. Reavley and District of Columbia Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., for a panel discussion on the difference between the rule of law and the rule of judges. Baylor Law School partners with the Bar Association of the Federal Fifth Circuit to host the event, the first in the Law School’s new “Viewpoints” series.

–October 31––McLane Stadium hosts the first-ever Stadium Spooktacular, presented by Lowe’s of Waco. The event is a family-friendly Halloween event that features trick or treating, games, face painting and a costume contest on the 100 level concourse. The evening concludes with Steven Spielberg’s classic film “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” shown on the Jumbotron, courtesy of the Waco Hippodrome.

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–November 3––Baylor Regent William S. Simon, who led Wal-Mart’s U.S. operations from 2010 to 2014 as president and CEO, crash-lands a plane on a highway in front of an Arkansas high school after the aircraft’s oil system fails. Simon and two other men aboard the plane are taken to a hospital, as is a woman whose truck is hit by the plummeting plane, but injuries are minor. Simon was flying from Bentonville to Waco, where he teaches a business class each Tuesday at Baylor.

–November 8––A bust of stadium benefactor John Eddie Williams placed at the foot of McLane Stadium, facing the Brazos River and Baylor Law School, is unveiled at a ceremony attended by President Ken Starr, Coach Grant Teaff and others. The bust is a surprise present from Williams’s wife Sheridan on his 60th birthday.

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–November 10–Acclaimed international artist Frank Stella is the special guest for the Allbritton Art Institute’s annual lecture in Jones Theatre. Stella is interviewed by art critic Jason Kaufman before a standing-room only crowd.


–November 14—-ESPN College Gameday returns to Waco for the Baylor-Oklahoma game in McLane Stadium.

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–November 14––The floats from the Baylor Homecoming parade that was canceled in October are displayed to the public on Fifth Street on campus prior to the Baylor-Oklahoma football game. Members of the groups that built the floats are on hand to show them off and answer questions.

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–November 14–– The fourth-ranked Baylor Bears end the nation’s longest home winning streak at 20 games as they lose to No. 12 Oklahoma, 44-34, in McLane Stadium. The loss is Baylor’s first ever in the new stadium, and it comes in the rain before a crowd of 49,875 people, the largest ever in McLane Stadium. Making his second start for the Bears, freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham hits 16 of 27 for 257 yards and two touchdowns. Before the game begins, those in the stadium are asked to observe a moment of silence in memory of those who died the previous day in terror attacks in Paris, as the French colors are displayed on the scoreboard.

–November 16–The Texas Tribune, in partnership with Baylor University, hosts a free, open-to-the-public, daylong Symposium on Higher Education at the Baylor Club in McLane Stadium. Symposium discussion topics include higher education issues and the 84th legislative session, access, affordability and demographics change; the quest for higher education excellence; and how to solve the persistent problem of low completion rates. In addition to the panels, the symposium features a conversation with Evan Smith, The Texas Tribune’s CEO and editor-in-chief, and Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr.

–November 16––At a campus news conference, Baylor Regent Emeritus Drayton McLane Jr. and Ramiro Peña, executive director of The Gathering and pastor of Waco’s Christ the King Church, announce that the interdenominational worship and prayer service called “The Gathering on the Brazos,” which drew 35,000 people in its debut in March 2015, will return to McLane Stadium on Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017.

–November 18––Baylor student government and Student Foundation host the All-University Thanksgiving Dinner on Fountain Mall, featuring a traditional Thanksgiving meal donated by Aramark. “This is really the first time that student government and Student Foundation have cooperated in the creation of an event,” says Dr. Elizabeth Palacios, dean for student development. “I think that represents the community we live in here at Baylor.” The meal is followed immediately by Fall Festival.

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–November 21––Baylor beats Oklahoma State on the road, 45-35. It is the first time that Baylor has beaten OSU in football in Stillwater, Okla., since 1939.

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–November 30––The Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission announces that Baylor senior University Scholar Jacob Imam has been selected as one of 32 American university students –– and the only student from a Texas university –– to receive the prestigious 2016 Marshall Scholarship. The award will allow Imam to fund his studies at Oxford University, where he will seek a master in philosophy degree (M.Phil.) in Islamic studies and history. He will receive his bachelor’s degree from Baylor in May 2016.

Jacob Imam copy


–December 3––Baylor’s Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir presents a concert titled “Voices & Vinyl: Selections from the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project” in the Moody Memorial Library’s Albritton Foyer. The group sings songs inspired by the Baylor project in addition to a few Christmas selections. Eric Ames, curator of digital collections in Baylor Libraries, says, “We hope the event will expose Baylor students to the unique resource of the project.”

–December 3-4–– NASA astronaut, manager and engineer Rick Mastracchio, who has flown aboard American space shuttles and Russian spacecraft and spent time on the International Space Station, presents two lectures at Baylor.

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–December 3––U.S. Rep. Bill Flores of Texas speaks on the U.S. House floor to honor Diana R. Garland, Ph.D., founding dean and namesake of Baylor’s Diana R. Garland School of Social Work.

–December 4––Following a screening of Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 war film “Full Metal Jacket” in Baylor’s Castellaw Communications Center, one of the film’s stars, actor Matthew Modine, talks to the audience and answers questions.

–December 5––Former Baylor All-America linebacker Mike Singletary appears at the Nissan Heisman House Tour in Touchdown Alley before Baylor hosts Texas at McLane Stadium.

–December 6––Following their regular season-ending loss the day before to Texas in McLane Stadium, 23-17, 17th-ranked Baylor (9-3) earns a sixth straight bowl appearance by being invited to face No. 10 North Carolina (11-2) in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando on Dec. 29.

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–December 7––In Richmond, Va., Baylor’s vice president for marketing and communications and chief marketing officer, John Barry, is announced as the new vice president for communications at the University of Richmond. In a campus email sent out the same day, Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr says the move “will allow John and his wife, Patty, to be closer to their children and grandchildren in the Virginia area.”

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–December 9––Baylor junior defensive tackle Andrew Billings is named the Big 12’s Defensive Lineman of the Year. Billings is also named the Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year with Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. Both awards are the first in Baylor history. At the same time, senior tackle Spencer Drango is named the Big 12’s Offensive Lineman of the year, his second time to win the award. Overall, 21 Baylor players are named to All-Big 12 teams, including four on the first team, five on the second team and 12 on the honorable mention list. The nine players on the Big 12 first and second teams are the second-most in Baylor history.

–December 10–– Baylor junior wide receiver Corey Coleman is named the 2015 Biletnikoff Award winner during The Home Depot College Football Awards at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The award is presented annually to the nation’s outstanding college football receiver. Coleman is the first Biletnikoff Award winner in Baylor history, after being selected as BU’s second semifinalist.

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–December 11–More than 300 people, including Baylor students, faculty and staff, gather in front of the REB Baylor statue during the lunch hour to pray for and show support for Muslim students on campus. During the event, which is not an official University function, faculty members hold a banner with the words “We Love and Support our Baylor Muslims.” University Chaplain Burt Burleson, who oversees the event, says, “We want (Muslim students) to know we’re trying to understand and be with them, which is the essence of compassion.”

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–December 16––For the first time in Baylor history two players, junior wide receiver Corey Coleman and senior offensive tackle Spencer Drango, garner unanimous All-America status in the same season as both players are named to the 2015 American Football Coaches Association All-America Team. In addition, Baylor football leads the country with three Associated Press All-America first team selections as Drango, Coleman and junior nose tackle Andrew Billings are named to the team. Baylor’s three first-team selections are the most for a single-season in program history, after having two in 1980.

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–December 16––The No. 16 Baylor men’s basketball team plays Hardin Simmons before 2,000 people in a nonconference game at Abrams Gym on Fort Hood. All tickets to the game were distributed free to military members and their families, and Baylor’s 104-59 win is followed by an autograph-signing session for those in attendance. “This night was about having an opportunity to say thank you and hopefully give them a couple hours of entertainment,” Baylor coach Scott Drew says. “We just really admire and respect what they do for our country. Fort Hood is the largest Army base in the free world. For us having the opportunity to play here really meant a lot to our guys.”

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–December 25–Merry Christmas!

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–December 29–No. 17 Baylor (9-3) faces off against No. 10 North Carolina (11-2) in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando.


Please check out our previous year-in-review posts from 2014 and 2013.


Many thanks to Baylor Marketing & Communications, the Baylor Lariat and the Waco Tribune-Herald for some of the photographs used in this post.

One Response

  1. Steve scot at |

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