$15 Million Gift Supports Restoration of Tidwell Bible Building

Dedicated in 1954, Tidwell Bible Building has served as a cornerstone of Baylor’s academic endeavors with Baylor students of all majors passing through its halls. 

Thousands of students have completed religion, philosophy, history, sociology, nursing, modern foreign language and sacred music classes in its classrooms. The building remains home to the College of Arts and Sciences’ religion and history departments.

The stately facility soon will receive a top-to-bottom renovation and restoration, thanks to a $15 million leadership gift from The Sunderland Foundation of Overland Park, Kansas, as part of the University’s $1.1 billion Give Light philanthropic campaign. 

On April 25, 2019, Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., joined Michelle Buckner, BA ’16, a member of the board of trustees of The Sunderland Foundation, on the building’s lawn to sign the official gift acknowledgement. 

“We are deeply grateful for The Sunderland Foundation’s transformational gift that will restore a truly historic and important building on our campus for future generations,” Livingstone said. “Tidwell Bible Building remains a cultural touchstone at Baylor — few students pass through this campus without venturing inside for a core class in history or religion.

“As we move forward with Illuminate, our commitment to improving and expanding upon our curriculum also has highlighted the infrastructure needs within the University,” she added. “This significant gift from The Sunderland Foundation and other generous support will allow Baylor to restore Tidwell to its original beauty — carefully preserving its architectural significance while revitalizing its ability to serve as a place of excellence in Christian higher education.”

Reviving and Preserving

In addition to improving the building’s infrastructure, the renovation of Tidwell’s 57,000 square feet will expand and enhance areas devoted to academic instruction, faculty offices and community building.

The restoration project includes the preservation of the limestone carvings depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments and the stained glass in Miller Chapel. 

Plans also call for a new prayer chapel, one that will provide a view of campus from the top floors of Tidwell — an area that will be accessible by elevator for the first time in the building’s history.

Before the establishment of several new chapels on campus, the building’s Miller Chapel had served for decades as the primary chapel and, in turn, as a popular location for Baylor weddings. 

Construction on Tidwell is expected to begin in late 2020 and is slated to reopen for classes in 2022. The restored Tidwell, which will house the Sunderland Academic Center, will include:

  • Small- and large-sized, flexible classrooms to enhance teaching.
  • Administrative and faculty offices —currently spread throughout the building — consolidated into common spaces that create synergies in collaboration, research and programs. 
  • Greater accessibility and modern infrastructure throughout the building to enable technology-enhanced learning.
  • Group meeting and work spaces and graduate student workspace to facilitate greater engagement.
  • The Sunderland Foundation was established in 1945 by Lester T. Sunderland and is still led by his descendants. The Foundation has focused on supporting construction projects in areas such as higher education, youth serving agencies, health facilities, community buildings, museums and civic projects.

“Baylor University is a special university under remarkable leadership, and we are excited by the ambitious vision for the future as outlined by President Livingstone,” Kent Sunderland, president of The Sunderland Foundation, said. “The Foundation has supported Baylor for several years, and we are proud to support the Give Light campaign through this gift to the Tidwell Bible Building restoration project. 

“We personally know of the significance that this historic building has had on so many lives and look forward to seeing Tidwell’s impact further extended through renovation and restoration,” he said.

For more information and a video tour of the Tidwell restoration and other capital projects, visit baylor.edu/givelight/capital.