Just the Bear Facts

To help you get your bearing in Grad School.

Category: Baylor

Ten Events We’re Looking Forward To this Semester!

While some may count down the days to Winter Break, there are still many events to look forward to Baylor and in Waco between now and December. Here are our top nine:

Orientation (August 17)

There’s nothing more exciting than welcoming over two hundred new graduate students into the Baylor community! Students will gather at the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center to begin their day with a hearty breakfast, while meeting their new cohort and GSA representatives. Energetic and informative sessions that are led by graduate school staff members and current students will follow and a President’s Reception (more food!) at Moody Library will conclude the beginning of 250 new adventures.

Traditions Rally (September 1)

The Traditions Rally is always held the Thursday before the first football game of the season. The main event is a headliner concert that has seen Phillip Phillips and Brad Paisley make their way to Waco in the past two years. Free and open to all, we’re excited to see this year’s headliner, Aloe Blacc, perform and, of course, the fireworks!

David McCullough Lecture (September 26)

The Beall-Russell Lectures in the Humanities was established in 1982 and has grown ever since. This year, we welcome renowned historian and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, David McCullough. Held in serene Jones Hall in the McCrary Music Building, McCullough’s lecture, The Incomparable Advantage of Intellectual Curiosity, is free and open to all students to attend.

Cultural Arts Festivals (October 1-2)

The arts have been gaining momentum in Waco and may have hit an all-time high when a proposal for a cultural district was sent to the Texas Commission for the Arts. The Cultural Arts Festival brings together local artists, writers, and scientists for a celebration on the banks of the Brazos in Indian Springs Park at the very beginning of the fall season.

Open House (October 6)

In October, the Graduate School will proudly host its first ever Open House. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet faculty and current students, learn more about the admission process, and tour our beautiful campus. If you’re thinking about Baylor for your next step, then this will be the place to be!

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Homecoming, Part One: Pigskin Revue (October 13-15)

A Homecoming tradition since 1958, the enormously-popular Pigskin Revue showcases the winning acts from the Spring’s All University Sing competition. With three shows throughout the weekend, performances are complex and colorful Broadway-style musicals. Remember to get your tickets as soon as they become available because they go fast!

Homecoming, Part Two: Homecoming Parade (October 15)

A tradition unlike other any: Baylor’s Homecoming Parade. Since 1909, the Baylor Band and elaborate floats have strolled down Waco’s streets during one of the oldest and largest homecoming parades in the nation. It’s sure to draw an extra-large crowd this year as last year’s edition was cancelled due to inclement weather and we will definitely be among them.

Baylor vs TCU (November 5)

A game unlike any other: Baylor vs TCU. The last time the Horn Frogs came to town was in 2014 when Baylor erased a 21-point deficit with only 11 minutes to play to pull off a stunning 61-58 victory that is still talked about ‘round these parts. After a heartbreaking double overtime loss last year in Fort Worth that was played during a Texas-sized rainstorm and without our first seven or so quarterbacks, we expect nothing less than last minute dramatics from the 2016 rendition, as well.

Oct 11, 2014; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears wide receiver Corey Coleman (1) catches a touchdown pass over TCU Horned Frogs cornerback Ranthony Texada (11) during the first half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Thanksgiving Dinner (TBD) and Christmas on Fifth (December 1)

Two of the best and most loved student activity campus programs are focused around the holidays. The week before Thanksgiving Break, all students and their families are invited to a free turkey feast that takes place on Fountain Mall. A few weeks later, we are treated to a tree lighting ceremony, live nativity, and concert during Christmas on Fifth. These are two events that should not (and will not) be missed!

By Matthew Doyen

Bears v Longhorns

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On Monday night, I tuned into ESPN (because a Monday night tip-off is not ideal for graduate students to attend) to watch the much anticipated Baylor-Texas men’s basketball game. As I listened to Brent Musburger skillfully narrate the intense action and to a full house fervently cheer on our boys in green and gold, I became curious as to why these two schools form one of the biggest rivalries in the country.

My first thought was location. BU and UT are located less than 100 miles from one another and it seems that every school that falls within that radius is a rival to Baylor (TCU and Texas A&M). The close proximity means that fans can easily travel on I-35 to any and all away games. The cities that the two schools call home are also vastly different. UT is located in the state capital of Austin. The city is known for being very hip (and “weird”) and has a great selection of parks, shops, and music venues. Waco, on the other hand, is the little brother of sorts. It is about half the size of its larger counterpart to the south and is just now coming into its own by being “wacko.” A lot of what Waco strives for, even down to its slogan, can trace its roots to Austin, which can account for some of the spite.

My second thought was academics. These two schools are the largest in central Texas and are ranked 52nd (UT) and 71st (BU) in U.S. World News Report’s most recent rankings. UT has been labeled as one of the “public ivies,” which implies that one can get an Ivy League education there for the price of a public school. Baylor, meanwhile, is strictly private and doesn’t have to create such titles. Over 50,000 students are enrolled at UT, while we have a little over 15,000, which creates a cozy atmosphere. Despite the disparity in the student population, both schools are known for their current research with Texas accruing a large research endowment and Baylor opening its BRIC operation just a couple of years ago; both also have general endowments over one billion dollars. The academic rigor that is paralleled at both institutions can only add fuel to the rivalry fire.

My final thought, and probably the one that should have come first, was athletics. BU-UT teams have competed in heated rivalry for decades (check out the 1963 football program at the bottom of the page courtesy of The Texas Collection), despite the fact that the Longhorns have had an enormously historic advantage. In recent years, however, they have been caught and the Bears are now consistently competing on the football field and basketball court and baseball diamond and on and on and on. The intensity brought by this transition of power has made the rivalry ever more intense, which can only enhance to the competitiveness.

While the basketball game continued to unfold in the background of my “research,” I kept hearing Mr. Musburger say two words that perfectly sum up the relationship of BU and UT: passion and respect. Perhaps the reason that this tandem has become so fierce is because we see a lot of the same qualities in each other. We are both located in Central Texas and proud of it. We are both continually improving our level of academics and research. We are both desperately passionate for our team. Because of those facts, a mutual respect has grown and, even though it may seem that we despise each other’s existence most of the time, we are only making each other better.

ooWhile these programs have become a bit less offensive, some things, like the intensity of the Baylor-Texas rivalry, will never change.

By Matthew Doyen

Nine Things We’re Looking Forward to This Semester!

Basketball Games – January 2-March 3

There has been a recent resurgence of Baylor athletics, and the basketball teams have been at the forefront. Since 2010, the Lady Bears have been to two Final Fours, including winning it all in 2012! They have been ranked in the top 10 for most of the year and end their season at the Ferrell Center against in-state foe (and currently undefeated) Texas. In the past six years, the men’s team has had equal success by reaching both the Elite Eight and NIT Finals twice in that span. The Bears end their season with a quartet of huge matchups against nationally ranked Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa State, and West Virginia. It’s safe to say that come Spring Break, Baylor will be electric with March Madness fever and we will be cheering the whole way.

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BRIC Lecture – January 21-22

Baylor’s BRIC (Baylor’s Research and Innovation Collaborative) Lecture series is bringing one of the world’s most distinguished and influential scientists to Waco. Dr. Henry “Fritz” Schafer will be giving two lectures while on campus with the public lecture titled “A Day in the Life of a Scientist: An Autobiographical Sketch.” Since Dr. Schafer was recently cited by the U.S. News and World Report as one of the seven chemists most deserving of the Nobel Prize who has yet to be so recognized, this will be one lecture we will make sure not to miss.

All-University Sing – February 18-27

The history of Baylor’s All-University Sing goes all the way back to 1953. During this wildly popular tradition, student organizations perform seven-minute broadway style productions. These organizations pull out all of the stops because the top eight acts will advance to the Pigskin Revue (another tradition that is held during Homecoming Weekend). Come late February, we’ll find our seats in Waco Hall and ready ourselves to enjoy this year’s eighteen amazing acts.

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Bearathon – March 19

Tokened “the Toughest Half in Texas,” the Bearathon is one of BU’s Student Foundation’s largest fundraising events. Last year over two thousand runners weaved their ways from the streets of downtown to the hills of Cameron Park and everywhere in between on the 13.1 mile course! This year’s race, which includes a 5K option, will begin and end at the “Palace on the Brazos,” McLane Stadium. For better or worse, we will be strapping on our bibs and going on a nice (and long) morning run before we head home for Easter Break.

Texas Food Truck Showdown – April 2

If there is one thing that Wacoans love, it is good food. The Greater Waco Chamber capitalized on this passion by hosting the first Texas Food Truck Showdown last year to raving reviews and, to the pleasure of many rumbling bellies, is bringing it back this spring for a second go-around. The 2016 version will feature an expanded venue with more than forty food trucks, live entertainment, and a free outdoor movie courtesy of Sunset Cinema. Aspiring food aficionados can even vote on their best mobile food stand! It’s safe to say that after sleeping off a day filled with pranks and hijinks, we will put on our fat pants and indulge at the Showdown.

STEM and Humanities Symposium – April 7

For the last couple of years, Baylor has placed an extra emphasis on its STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and Humanities programs. The University is continuing its quest by hosting its second annual STEM and Humanities Symposium at the Mayborn Museum. This year’s theme is “The Anthropocene,” which is a proposed name for the current geological period, when humans have replaced nature as the most significant environmental force on Earth. We’re marking our calendars and taking our chances crossing University Parks for this event.

Steppin’ Out – April 9

Community engagement and service is something that has always been important to Baylor and its students. One of the most popular and rewarding experiences that students and faculty can partake in is the Steppin’ Out program. Steppin’ Out at Baylor, which just celebrated its thirty year anniversary, occurs once a semester and gives the university a chance to give back to the beautiful city that it calls home. During the second Saturday in April, you’ll find us rolling up our sleeves ready to garden, clean, paint, and wash our community.

Diadeloso – April 12

Sometimes after a long semester, we just need to get together with all of our friends and have a huge campus-wide party. Baylor, bless its heart, has been making that happen for its students since before WII. Diadeloso, a self-proclaimed university holiday, is a day full of athletic tournaments, live entertainment, and so much more. We’re not ashamed to admit that our countdown to Diadeloso, the Day of the Bear, has begun (90 days and counting!).

Common Grounds Concert – April 13

Common Grounds is not only one of the best coffee shops in town, but also one of the best music venues. They have big names headline their calendar all semester (Gungor, Jukebox the Ghost, Mutemath), but the show we’re looking forward to the most is the April 13th appearance of the americana-folk band Judah and the Lion. As we’re finishing up our theses and projects, we’ll be sure to squeeze in some time to walk across the street from campus and see an amazing concert.

By Matthew Doyen

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The Best Places to Study on Campus

With finals quickly approaching, everyone is becoming attached to their books and becoming one with their favorite study places. Luckily, Baylor has a number of charming and quiet buildings and areas that graduate students especially like using.

1. The Second Floor of the Student Union

The first time that I journeyed into the SUB I was amazed by the ornate furnishings and decorations. It was like stepping back in time to the rich grandmother’s house I never had, but even better because everything wasn’t wrapped in plastic and smelled like perfume. There are long hallways and small rooms that branch off from the main ballroom that are specifically designated for studying. It is like a private family room that brings about coziness and studiousness every time I enter. There are also eateries to buy food and coffee on the first floor so prepare for an anticipated hour long study break to turn into an all day event.

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2. The Incubator

The name is still a mystery, but the Incubator is a dedicated section on the first floor of the Moody Library that is only for graduate students. We don’t have to fight the sleep-deprived undergrads for couches and tables any longer! Besides for the graduate student events that occur, the large room rarely gets crowded. With stacks of resources right outside, and the Graduate Writing Center located at its entrance, the Incubator is a one-stop shop for those exciting December research papers. Oh, and if the free coffee in the space doesn’t hit the spot, Starbucks is right down the hall in the main lobby.

3. Armstrong Browning Library Garden of Contentment

Located on the outskirts of campus, the name just whispers relaxation. The Garden of Contentment is located on the left side of the Armstrong Browning Library and provides an excellent atmosphere for getting work done. Although it may be too cold to use by the time fall finals roll around (although in Texas one never knows), the garden’s trees, expansive foliage, and small fountain make it an extremely comfortable reading space for those late August and early September assignments. If there are no tables available outside, the Library also provides a unique, beautiful, and quiet space for studying, contemplating, or cat-napping.

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4. Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation

The Foster Business Building is Baylor’s newest academic building. Its sleek design and innovative technology make it a perfect space for tackling that dreaded group project. Foster offers breakout rooms that look over the main lobby area that any student can reserve. While all the activity can be distracting to some, the lobby is an excellent space to study for the student that can tune out all the noise and action. But to be honest, most people just go to this building to study because it is home to the new café and bakery: Au Bon Pain.

5. Common Grounds Back Patio

Although technically located right across the street from the campus line, Common Grounds provides a great space for studying and caffeinating. There are a number of couches and tables on the inside, but it often gets too crowded and stuffy for many people’s liking. A quick scurry to the back patio offers more adequate seating for writing papers and reading those journal articles on farm life in the mid-late fourteenth century. With not too much light, but enough to make doing work possible, it’s an especially calming spot to go to on Sunday nights as students mentally prepare for the coming week. Before you go, just make sure there’s not a concert happening!

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Good Luck!

By Matthew Doyen

A Graduate Student Walks into McLane Stadium

Football is big in Texas. They make movies and shows about it. Football is really big at Baylor. They have been a top-ten competitor for the last half-decade and just built a new $266 million dollar stadium. But I knew all of that coming into graduate school and was ready to become part of the end-of-the-week pandemonium… or so I thought.

I have already been exposed to the world of collegiate football. My undergraduate school had a football, but they were historically awful. They were so awful that the team actually disbanded for a couple of decades and have been trying to build since its resurrection. Still, to say the least, the football culture was not ideal, and neither were the games. For starters, just getting to the stadium was a struggle. Students had to either take a bus that took the highway during Saturday afternoon traffic, of, if they felt brave, the subway down Broad Street. And with the campus being located in the middle of a city, there is little hope for a new, closer stadium in the future. Once we made it to the three-quarters-empty Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, the talent on the field just didn’t match the effort it took to watch, much like it does there on Sundays.

A Baylor football game, on the other hand, is a spectacle. The whole town descends onto the university with their cornhole games and slow cookers. The walk to the new home of Baylor Football, McLane Stadium, is an easy and beautiful one that weaves through the tailgaters and crosses over the Brazos River. The atmosphere is made even more electric by the number of students who are passionate about their Bears. Walking into McLane Stadium with them for the first time was a shock. The building is HUGE! I understand why the tours for prospective undergrads make this place their last stop. It’s a selling point for student, athletes, and Wacoans, alike.

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So, there I was: second row back with my discounted BU football shirt from last season (so people would think that I’ve done this before) and my bear claw raised into the air. I thought that I was ready, but hearing the noise and seeing the passion explode around me, I realized that I still have a long way to go. Most of these students grew up in this state surrounded by the culture of watching football Thursday-Sunday and talking about it the rest of the week. They may have even come to Baylor because of the recent emergence of the football team; I wouldn’t blame them one bit.

They yell before, during, and after each play. They talk about the TCU game last year. And then talk about it some more. They wave their rally towels with “61-58” printed on them. And then talk about the TCU game some more after that. In fact, that game is so beloved ‘round these parts that it is played around the clock at H-E-B (not kidding). It was last year, but as my friend told me as I frequently reminded her of that fact, “You just don’t understand.” And she’s right, I don’t. Like many of my fellow graduate cohort, I’m new to this school and to this strong tradition. We don’t get special treatment like the freshmen and are just thrown into the fire with fans who have been loving this team for years.

The fans make it much easier, though. They are so nice and understanding and are willing to help out us newcomers. They teach you chants and keep you motivated when your arm tires and your body slowly withers in the afternoon sun. They celebrate with you and help you learn the player’s names, both past and present. They remind you of the team’s rivals (essentially every school in Texas) and its recent success. They help you become part of the culture. And I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Oh, and did I mention that the tickets are free for all students? Sic’em Bears!

UPDATE:

Baylor: ranked #2 in the nation, the highest ranking in school history (next game: 11/5 at Kansas State)

Temple (my undergrad school who decided to get it together after I left): ranked #21, the first time the program has been ranked since 1979 (next game: 10/31 at home vs #9 Notre Dame)

By Matthew Doyen

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