Skip to main content

School History

Baylor Business

A Brief History

The Hankamer School of Business is rich with history, and has long been an influential and contributing piece of Baylor University's legacy. We embrace our history as motivation to continually strive to better ourselves and to influence the business community worldwide.


The Baylor Business School was established in 1923, but our story really begins back in 1919, when President Samuel Palmer Brooks proposed the adoption of a business school. At that time, America was recovering from World War I and enrollment was down. President Brooks was dedicated to raising the academic standing of the University, and believed expanding the curriculum and academic opportunities by creating a business school at Baylor was essential.

The board accepted President Brooks' recommendation without any hesitation and authorized him to take the necessary steps toward establishing a department of business administration. Unfortunately, there was a Business Depression in 1921-1922 and the project was postponed until 1923. In March 1923, President Brooks again approached the board about establishing a business school at Baylor. Other Texas universities had already formed business schools, and President Brooks believed Baylor could move forward with little or no increase in expenses.

Motivated by a boost in university enrollment and the chance to increase academic opportunity for students, the board once again approved the establishment of the business department, named the School of Commerce and Business Administration. Dr. Charles Johnson from the department of Public Discourse was made head of the new business department.


In 1924, the school offered its first bachelor degree in Business Administration. Then on May 21, 1925, the first class graduated from the School of Commerce and Business Administration. The seven graduates included Alba McCreary, W. Frank Smith, Wortham Renfro, C.H. Tarrant, Frank Creasey, Maurice Frazier and Ben Williams.

At this time the business school was housed in classrooms and offices on the ground floor of Carroll Library. The program was very small, only staffing four full-time professors, but space was tight. In February 1926, the school swapped locations with a university museum and moved into a wooden building on campus.

Pat Neff

As the 1930's rolled around and the Depression hit, the school suffered a drop in enrollment and Baylor faced $400,000 in debt. But in 1932 former Texas Governor, Pat Neff, became the president of Baylor University, and accepted the challenge of helping Baylor survive the Depression and reduce university expenses. Pat Neff took drastic actions toward lowering costs and by the end of his presidential term he was characterized as the savior of the university.

By 1941, the business school was recognized as an essential and contributing element of the university. Throughout the first 16 years of its life, 567 students graduated with study concentrations in business.

Dr. Aldon S. Lang, a former Baylor faculty member, returned to Baylor and became the dean of the business school in 1948. At that time, the school was housed in Old Main, but the facility was inadequate for the expanding program. The business school again relocated to the third floor of the Student Union Building, while keeping its administrative offices in Old Main.


Dr. Lang began working toward meeting the standards required for membership in the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business. This goal inspired many program and faculty improvements, and in 1950 the business school was admitted with provisional associate membership in the AACSB. As the program continued to strengthen, the business school attained complete associate membership in 1953. Full accreditation was achieved in 1959.

Hankamer Building

Prompted by the AACSB accreditation standards and the necessity of more space, the board dedicated itself toward raising funds for a new building to house the business school, and by 1956 there were $500,000 in cash donations and pledges. A building committee was created in 1958 to proceed with plans to construct and build a new building. Earl Hankamer was a board member during this time, and in 1959 he offered a gift of $500,000 to cover the costs of constructing and furnishing the new building.

Mr. Hankamer envisioned an exquisite, professional building, modeled after a mid 20th century bank. In 1960, the uniquely designed building was completed. In honor of Mr. Hankamer, the building was named the Hankamer Building and the school name was also changed to the Hankamer School of Business.

After the plans for the Hankamer building were finalized in 1959, the AACSB granted full membership to the business school. Even today, only 5 percent of business schools worldwide have AACSB International Accreditation.

The Hankamer School of Business has gone on to be one of the top-ranked schools in the nation.


Beginning in the late 1970s, enrollment in the business school began increasing more rapidly than did the overall university enrollment. Students were drawn to the business school because of its growing reputation for providing a quality education in business.

In 1977, the business school offered nine areas of study in which students could major; by 1993, there were 20. Not only was the curriculum and study options increasing, the number of well-qualified professors was increasing as well. In 1978, 14 new faculty members, all with doctoral degrees, were employed by the school. Over the next 16 years, faculty members swelled to a high of 127 in the 1991-92 academic year.

Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

Because entrepreneurship has long been a key part of American business, the business school established the Center for Private Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in 1977. Under the direction of Dr. Calvin A. Kent, the center became one of the most outstanding programs of its kind within the United States.

Facilities and Resources

With such progress being made, the school again needed to expand its facilities and resources. Another wing, funded by the Hankamers, was built on the southeast corner of the Hankamer Building, providing faculty office space. In 1983, a classroom and academic center was authorized and would provide three floors of state-of-the-art classrooms, offices and computer labs. The accounting firm, Arthur Andersen and Company, funded a student center that connected to the Hankamer Building. The Arthur Andersen Student Center provided students with a place to meet and study. In 1986, two more floors were added to the Academic Center, provided by Roy and Virginia Cashion. The building was renamed Cashion Academic Center in their honor.

In 1962, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Casey purchased the business school's first computer, but the growth of the Casey Computer Center really began in the 1980s. New equipment was purchased, and today it has expanded to provide four microcomputer labs and a Macintosh graphics and research lab for students and faculty.

The ability to expand the School's resources and facilities was made possible by major gifts donated to the school. Hankamer School of Business accumulated approximately $4.5 million quasi-endowments. These generous gifts endowed two centers, two teaching fellowships and 24 research chairs and professorships.

Since the late 1990s, the Hankamer School of Business has emerged from being a regional teaching facility into a nationally - and internationally - recognized research and teaching facility.

Faculty Research and Recognition

In 1997, faculty publications in A-level journals occurred once or twice per year and research grants among faculty were non-existent. In the early 2000s, research activity increased, and in just the last few years, Hankamer faculty have increased publications in A-level journals by more than tenfold.

Research grant activity has also multiplied from a negligible level to half a million awarded. Current grant applications total well over $1 million, so grant awards are expected to continue to climb.

Further, Hankamer faculty has earned multiple national and global awards for research, again from almost none to several each year.

Finally, faculty are actively engaged in international research fellowships and exchanges, with multiple faculty traveling for research each year, compared to 1997, when such activity did not occur at all.

National Rankings

Hankamer emerged in national rankings for the first time in 1992, when a Public Accounting Report survey placed the accounting program No. 16 in the nation. Since then, the School continues to climb rankings and gain recognition in several areas.

Signature Programs

Innovative programs based on industry needs have been developed and expanded, providing national leadership in areas such as entrepreneurship, the MBA Focus Firm, Baylor Angel Network's intern program, professional selling, sports sponsorship, the student-managed investment fund, music and entertainment marketing and the Business Fellows program.

Executive Events

Several high-profile events have been established, bringing top executives and thought-leaders to campus to interact with students, faculty and alumni.

  • Established 1999: Ben H. Williams Distinguished Speaker Series - Speakers have included Gerard Arpey, American Airlines/AMR Corp.; Sharon Allen, Deloitte & Touche; Walt Pavlo; Ken Blanchard; Patricia Schubert-Barnes, Sister Schubert's Homemade Rolls; John C. Bogle, Vanguard; and Mark McCollum, Halliburton.
  • Established 2000: Ethics Focus Week, which has evolved into the Dale P. Jones Business Ethics Forum - Throughout the forum, business students discuss and explore real-world ethical issues. Past themes have included finance, corporate governance, marketing, and leadership lessons from Enron and Andersen.
  • Established 2003: Baylor Business Network - Business School alumni groups are currently active in Austin, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston, San Antonio and to a lesser extent, Denver, New York City and Southern California.
  • Established 2006: McBride Global Business Forum
  • Established 2007: Baylor Business Fellows - The Fellows major features an innovative structure where students meet with an advisor to create a customized curriculum tailored to their specific interests. Exclusive admission into the major is based on SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendation, a strong resume and intellectual curiosity.
  • Established 2008: National MBA Case Competition in Ethical Leadership - Teams of MBA students from schools around the nation vie for honors in this case competition. Over a three-day period, the teams study an ethical business dilemma and present their solutions before judges.
  • Established 2011: Paul J. Meyer Christian Leadership in Business Speaker Series - Gil Strickland was the speaker at the inaugural event.
Border Title