Sharing Student Scholarship: Religion at Baylor University, 1890-1910

Our Sharing Student Scholarship blog posts showcase original scholarship written by Baylor students who conducted research using primary source materials in The Texas Collection. This post is the the third of five in a series of blog posts written by graduate and PhD students from the Fall 2018 Foundations & History of Higher Education Leadership course. 

by Sean Strehlow, Trenton Holloway, Maddie Whitmore, and Tori Guilford

Rufus C. Burleson: Cultivating the Baptist Way at Baylor

Rufus C. Burleson

President Rufus C. Burleson first served as president of Baylor University at Independence from the years 1851-1861. After Baylor University at Independence merged with Waco University, Burleson again took on the role of president. He served in this role until 1897. Burleson’s dedication to his own Baptist faith helped define and distinguish Baylor University’s Baptist identity. Following his death in 1901, Baylor University erected a monument in Burleson’s honor. Burleson’s students, it is said, “have carried his noble lessons around the globe” (Ritchie, 1901, pp. 4). As teachers, preachers, legislators, physicians, bankers, and lawyers, Burleson’s former students became worldwide leaders. His undeniable faith in God is evidenced by his commitment to Christian education. At the time of this memorial being planted, the Baylor faculty sought to continue his great legacy. The faculty committed themselves to prayer and the perpetuation of Burleson’s vision for Christian education (Ritchie, 1901, pp. 5). Chief among the faculty was B.H. Carroll, First Baptist’s magnanimous preacher, and one of the most influential denominational leaders among Southern Baptists. His sermons never failed to convict the hearts of his congregants (Ray, 1927, pp. 149-150). Burleson was both friend, and mentor to Carroll.

B. H. Carroll

From the very beginning, Baylor has been steeped in Baptist tradition. Baylor’s Baptist ties could be seen most clearly in their Chapel services. These services, held once a day, served as an opportunity for students, faculty and staff alike to come together and sing songs, pray, and hear biblical teaching. In the 1890’s, these services were held at 9:00a.m. on weekdays and at 4:00p.m. on Sundays. Students’ attendance at these services was mandatory and strictly enforced, and absences could earn a student anywhere from two to ten demerits. Chapel speakers were most often University professors who would speak on a topic of their choosing. B.H. Carroll gave his first address to the students in 1886, and quickly became a regular speaker at Chapel services (Carroll, 1923, pp. 409). He was admired by students like Jessie Brown, a student between 1888-1891, who recorded fond reflections of his sermons in letters written to her sister at home (Brown, 1890, pp. 233). Despite the strict attendance policy, many students really enjoyed the Chapel services. These Chapel “exercises,” as Jewell Leggett refers to them in her diary, helped students to grow in their faith by teaching them spiritual discipline.Continue Reading

Sharing Student Scholarship: Finances at Baylor University, 1890-1910

Our Sharing Student Scholarship blog posts showcase original scholarship written by Baylor students who conducted research using primary source materials in The Texas Collection. This post is the the third of five in a series of blog posts written by graduate and PhD students from the Fall 2018 Foundations & History of Higher Education Leadership course. 

by Scott Alexander, Andrew Eastwood, Preston Templeman, and Mariah Duncan

Throughout the history of higher education, finances and funding have been necessary to animate and realize the mission of an institution. Finances can make or break an institution; therefore, strong leadership has always been important in making sure that the funds of an institution are being used to support both present function and foundation for the future. Funding comes from both internal and external sources to build endowments, provide student scholarships, pay institutional debts, make capital improvements, and supply for curricular and co-curricular resources. As industrialists built personal wealth during the 1890s and 1900s, the prevailing concept of the “Protestant work ethic” encouraged philanthropic stewardship of that wealth[1]. Higher education institutions capitalized on this ethic through targeted fundraising efforts[2].Continue Reading

Sharing Student Scholarship: Access at Baylor University, 1900-1910

Our Sharing Student Scholarship blog posts showcase original scholarship written by Baylor students who conducted research using primary source materials in The Texas Collection. This post is the second of five in a series of blog posts written by graduate and PhD students from the Fall 2018 Foundations & History of Higher Education Leadership course. 

by Rachel Jones, Rachel Ticknor, Rachel Henson, Jillian Haag, and Lela Lam

Following its merger with Waco University in 1886, Baylor University set forth a series of initiatives that were progressive in terms of extending college access to various student groups-specifically to women and transfer students. These initiatives included Baylor’s promotion of coeducation and the university’s establishment of formal articulation agreements with Texas high schools and other Baptist colleges. Because of these efforts, a Baylor education had become more accessible to a wider network of students. However, despite these progressive strides, some students (mainly female students) still faced inequality and a lack of access to certain resources/activities once they actually matriculated on campus.

With the establishment of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT)’s Education Commission in 1897, Baylor focused on leveraging the Commission’s existing partnerships in order to create formal articulation agreements with the other correlated Baptist colleges. Under these agreements, students that completed a standardized two-year curriculum and graduated from the affiliated colleges could transfer to Baylor, without an entrance examination, in order to complete their four-year degree. Baylor utilized a similar model in order to establish formal articulation agreements with a variety of high schools. These two initiatives collectively increased access for, and enrollment of, students who graduated from the affiliated high schools and colleges.

Despite their successes, it is possible that some of Baylor’s most groundbreaking initiatives were inherently exclusionary towards students who did not belong to/identify with the parameters that had been established (e.g. students who did not attend the affiliated high schools or colleges). Moreover, Baylor did not ensure that all students would receive equal levels of access to campus resources and programs once they actually enrolled at Baylor, which resulted in a sense of tension among the university community.

Group photo of The R.C.B. Literary Society, 1908. Found in the 1908 edition of The Baylor Round-Up. Courtesy of The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

This tension is perhaps most evident in the experiences documented by Baylor’s female students and faculty members between 1900 and 1910. Although Baylor had taken a rather progressive stance on coeducation and allowed men and women to meet in the classroom and in the chapel together, women still faced unfair treatment in terms of housing policies and educational, financial, and extracurricular opportunities. Two examples of this treatment are evident when one takes a closer look at the student literary societies and faculty job opportunities.

Photo of Dr. Lula Pace, 1908. Lula Pace was the first female professor at Baylor to hold a doctoral degree, and served as the chair of the Department of Botany and Geology. Found in the 1908 edition of The Baylor Round-Up. Courtesy of The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

As with most topics regarding student access during this time, the issue of women’s participation in literary societies was complex. There was collaboration and partnership between the male and female societies, but this did not always result in equality for their respective members. Though there were a number of benefits that came from women’s membership in literary societies, it is evident that when compared to their male counterparts, female students who chose to participate in such societies faced marginalization. This marginalization is especially evident when one considers the limited opportunity for scholarships.

In a similar vein, female faculty members at Baylor also experienced inequality. Although Baylor had taken a progressive stance on hiring more female faculty members, women comprised less than half of the faculty, were paid less than their male counterparts, and were generally considered lower-level “instructors” rather than full professors. In addition, Baylor rarely hired married female faculty members, notwithstanding that the majority of male faculty were married. All of these examples confirm that Baylor female faculty members faced inequality that was similar to what Baylor female students faced.

As progressive as Baylor was in 1900 to 1910, it was still a far cry from the experience that Baylor women have today. Finally, as Baylor continues to extend access to a variety of students, the university should build intentional partnerships whilst remaining mindful of any possibilities of exclusion.

Sharing Student Scholarship: Curricular Change and Reform at Baylor University, 1890-1910

Our Sharing Student Scholarship blog posts showcase original scholarship written by Baylor students who conducted research using primary source materials in The Texas Collection. This post is the first of five in a series of blog posts written by graduate and PhD students from the Fall 2018 Foundations & History of Higher Education Leadership course. 

by Beth Benschoter, Delacy Carpenter, Liya Scott, and Zach Mills

The transition from the 19th Century and into the 20th Century was a time in American higher education of innovation and reform. Although within a matter of decades a uniquely American identity of higher education would emerge, at the turn of the century institutions were still experimenting, specifically with curriculum (Thelin, 2011). This was certainly true of Baylor University and from ~1890-1910, Baylor was exploring many curricular innovations, some lasting and others not. Four specific curricular changes that emerged during this time were: the construction of a new science building; a military science department; a growing religious curriculum; and a school of oratory.Continue Reading