Founders & Founders Day

The university community annually celebrates the founding of Baylor University on the anniversary of its charter. In 1995, Baylor celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary, and in 2020 it turned 175 years old.

Baylor University at Independence, Texas

Baptist minister William M. Tryon was the first to suggest that a Baptist university be established in Texas, beginning the push toward what would become Baylor in 1841. District Judge R. E. B. Baylor quickly joined in the promotion of the idea, and they were supported by the members of the Texas Baptist Education Society, which was affiliated with the Union Baptist Association. James Huckins, the first Baptist missionary to Texas, was the university's first full-time fund-raiser. These three men are credited as being our founders, though there were many others who probably worked just as much to see the University established.

On February 1, 1845, Baylor University's charter was officially signed by Republic of Texas President Anson Jones. The University's founders saw Baylor first and foremost as an institution for training Baptist ministers, but they also had an eye on the future. Early plans called for "an academical and theological institution" that would meet "the requirements of existing conditions," but that also "would be susceptible of enlargement and development to meet the needs of all the ages to come," as Huckins wrote in 1844.

Today, Baylor -- the only university chartered by the Republic of Texas that has remained in continuous operation -- continues to grow to meet new needs. Building on its original mission, the University promotes exemplary teaching, encourages innovative and original research, and supports professional excellence in a wide variety of specialized disciplines. Baylor is a nationally ranked research institution, a vibrant, caring community of 16,000 students, 3,000 faculty and staff members and 160,000 living alumni, the largest Baptist educational institution in the world, and an active member of the international community of higher learning. We believe Tryon, Baylor and Huckins would be proud to meet the 3,000+ Baylor students who graduate each year prepared for worldwide leadership and service.

The Founders Medal

Baylor University Founders MedalThe Founders Medal was established in September 1969 and is one of the most distinguished awards given by Baylor University. This award is reserved for men and women whose service and contributions have been unusually significant to the life and future of the University. One copy of the medal is on permanent exhibition in the National Numismatic Collection, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

The face of the medal bears the likeness of Judge R.E.B. Baylor, with the inscription "Pro Ecclesia Pro Texana." The obverse bears the likeness of Pat Neff Hall with the inscription "Baylor University Founders Medal," plus the name of the recipient and year of presentation.

Founders Medal Recipients