Baylor University was no stranger to the financial hardships that came from the Great Depression. The 1930s were filled with new innovations and ideas as the university and her students searched for a way to fund their education.
Although Baylor was not immune to these challenges, the administration actively worked towards reducing their debt and increasing their endowment. President Pat Neff’s determination fueled these efforts through his networking pursuits and partnerships with philanthropists. With the end of the Greater Baylor Campaign of the 1920s, Baylor narrowed her fundraising focus to endowment, in order to decrease dependence on tuition. The combination of major donors and outside organizations, like the Baptist Foundation of Texas and the Baptist General Convention, helped Baylor achieve her financial goals.
Combating the financial strain of the Great Depression, Baylor also provided academic, ministerial, and merit-based scholarships to students that would have otherwise been unable to afford a higher education experience. Scholarships were offered to students who both the administration and the president felt would further the mission and scope of Baylor University. Valedictorians, musicians, and students interested in entering a life of ministry were the benefactors of these life-changing scholarships.
In keeping with Baylor’s Baptist roots, missionaries from around the world chose to send their children to Baylor to receive a higher education experience. To assist with funding, various outside scholarship funds were created to assist students of missionaries located outside of the United States. One scholarship in particular, The Margaret Fund, has a prominent history at Baylor. It existed to support students of missionaries financially for a number of years. This fund served and supported many young women and men throughout their journeys at Baylor, all the while, gently pushing them towards a future life of service in the missionary field.
The three historical research papers in this section cover the financial transitions, failures, and eventual successes Baylor University in the 1930s. Through the charismatic leadership and discerning wisdom of President Pat Neff and the support of outside organizations, the university was able to creatively overcome the economic burden of the Great Depression.
Funding a Mission: Student Scholarships at Baylor University in the 1930s
(by Justin Hardegree)
A New Decade, A New Direction: President Neff’s Elimination of Debt and Increase of Endowment during the Depression
(by Savanah Landerholm)
The Margaret Fund: A Story of Persistence and Support at Baylor University in the 1930s
(by Zandra Cook)