One of the highlights of Baylor's Homecoming festivities is always the crowning of the Homecoming Queen. In the early 1900s Baylor produced various sorts of royalty-including a football queen elected by the team and a "May Queen"-but it's the Homecoming Queen who reigns supreme. Today's queens are selected based on interviews by three judges, who are appointed by the Baylor Chamber of Commerce. But it hasn't always been that way.
Originally, Baylor selected its queen based on the quality of the float on which she rode. "Being pretty is only 50 percent of becoming a Homecoming Queen at Baylor University," said a 1968 university press release. "The other 50 percent comes from members of a hard-working club or class of creative float builders who can produce a prize-winning float."
Actually, being valued at 50 percent was a step up for the nominees. Queen candidates of the 1930s and 1940s counted only 25 percent toward the winning total, with the float counting the rest. Separate judging panels rated floats and queens, and their combined scores determined one winner-the winning queen candidate rode the winning float in the parade.
Floats were judged on originality, "rather than elaborateness," while queen candidates were judged on qualities like beauty, poise, graciousness, and charm. The queen and winning float were named at halftime of the Homecoming football game, after being evaluated by judges along the route of the pre-game parade.
In 1973, the float and queen awards were separated, and queens were selected based on the four categories of beauty, poise, personality, and campus involvement. Today the method remains remarkably similar to the one adopted at that time, but with slightly different categories. Now judging categories are scholarship, philanthropy, spiritual commitment, and poise. Each category counts for 10 points, plus the judges can award another 10 points in a "bonus" category for qualities not specifically named. The candidate coming closest to a perfect score of 50 is named the queen.
Today's queens are crowned during the Thursday night presentation of Pigskin Revue and get to enjoy the whole weekend as royalty-riding in a horse-drawn carriage in Saturday's parade and being presented at halftime of the Homecoming football game.
Baylor's first Homecoming Queen, Elaine Cross Roberts, was chosen in 1934. A queen has been named every year since then except in 1943 and 1944, when Homecoming activities were suspended because of World War II. A university-published Homecoming history claims that the 1952 queen, Pat Barfield Johnson '53, was the most famous queen because she was chosen from a hundred nominees by U.S. soldiers in Korea as "The Homecoming Queen We'd Most Like to Come Home To." The 1962 queen, Janet Pitman Bagby '65, made Baylor history as the first nominee of the Freshman Class to be selected-it has yet to happen again. Perhaps the most inspiring Homecoming Queen was 1986 honoree Beth Nance Smith '87, who had overcome bone replacement surgery and eighteen months of chemotherapy for bone cancer to continue her Baylor education.
The rich history and tradition of this pageant leaves it near and dear to the hearts of all who have experienced it. Today, it remains as an excellent way for Baylor to recognize the young women who live out the mission the university has set forth. We hope you join us for this truly royal element of Baylor Homecoming.