Baylor Celebrates Traditions Week, Founders Day Jan. 28-Feb. 1

News Photo 188
Judge Joe and Gene Aubrey Briscoe of Devine, Texas, were honored Jan. 30 with the Founders Day Medal, the most distinguished award given by Baylor University.
Jan. 29, 2002

by Melissa Allen, Student Newswriter

Baylor University will celebrate its 157th anniversary as the state's oldest continuously operating university during Traditions Week Jan. 28 through Feb. 1.

One of the highlights of Traditions Week is the Founders Day celebration. This year's Founders Day Medal, the most distinguished award given by Baylor, will be presented to Judge Joe and Gene Aubrey Briscoe of Devine, Texas, during a Chapel ceremony Wednesday, Jan. 30.

The Founders Medal was established in September 1969 and is given to those whose service and contributions have been significant to the university's growth and prosperity. A copy of the medal is on permanent exhibition in the National Numismatic Collection, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

Judge Briscoe practiced law for more than 40 years and served as judge of the Medina County Court of Law for 11 years and visiting judge for the last decade in 26 Texas counties. He also served as a Baylor trustee and charter regent from 1974 to 1983 and 1985 to 1994 and as a member and chair of the Institutional Development Council.

The Briscoes are the recipients of several university awards, including the James Huckins Award in 1987 and Pat Neff Award in 1989 and also were recognized that year as Alumni Honoris Causa for their investments in the life of Baylor and its students. Judge Briscoe also has been honored with the W.R. White Meritorious Service Award and the Herbert H. Reynolds Award. In 1975, the Briscoes established an endowed scholarship fund that has assisted more than 200 students. In 1996, the couple began providing scholarships for Baylor Law School students through an endowed law scholarship fund.

The Briscoes have two daughters who graduated from Baylor: Dr. Harriet Harral, who earned her bachelor's degree in 1966 and master's degree in 1967, and Joanne Jones, who received her bachelor's degree in 1970.

"Baptist education in Texas has long occupied the thought, energy and philanthropy of Judge Joe and Gene Aubrey Briscoe," said Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. "As models of intelligent Christian leaders, their lives have influenced countless young persons whom they have known and guided. Their gentle spirits, optimistic approaches to their lives despite severe physical challenges, and their daily expressions of joy evidence that their Christian faith is the base for all they do."

The face of the Founders Medal bears the likeness of Judge R.E.B. Baylor, with the inscription "Pro Ecclesia Pro Texana." The obverse shows the likeness of Pat Neff Hall with the inscription "Baylor University Founders Medal," plus the name of the recipient and date of presentation. Past recipients include Abner V. McCall, Carl Brown Casey, Olna M. Sams, Baylor Regent Emerita Dorothy Barfield Kronzer, Baylor President Emeritus Herbert H. Reynolds and Harry and Anna Jeanes of Waco.

In 1841, 35 delegates to the Union Baptist Association meeting accepted the suggestion of Rev. William Milton Tyron and District Judge R.E.B. Baylor to establish a Baptist university in Texas. The Texas Baptist Education Society then petitioned the Congress of the Republic of Texas to charter a Baptist university in the fall of 1844. Republic President Anson Jones signed the Act of Congress, officially establishing Baylor University. Rev. James Huckins, the first Baptist missionary to Texas, was Baylor's first full-time fund-raiser and the third founding father of the university. Although these men are credited as being the founders of Baylor, there are many others who worked to see the first university established in Texas.

The university community annually celebrates the founding of Baylor University on the anniversary of its charter. Baylor was chartered Feb. 1, 1845, and observes its founding on the Monday or Wednesday closest to that date. In 1995, Baylor celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary, and this year commemorates its 157th year.

Other Traditions Week events are:

Monday - Chapel, which featured Baylor physics professor Robert Packard; Joy, Baylor's bear mascot; and the Baylor yell leaders

Tuesday - Dr Pepper Hour from 3 to 4 p.m. in Barfield Drawing Room, where students can meet their student government and community service organization representatives; picture-taking session with the Baylor's mascot from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Bear Pit

Wednesday - Scholar Bowl, faculty vs. students, at 7 p.m. in room 510 of the Cashion Academic Building

Thursday - faculty appreciation day

Friday - free concert featuring Shaun Groves at 9 p.m. at the Baptist Student Ministries Building

For more information, contact student government at 710-2368.

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