Moving Forward as the Baylor Family

Baylor University’s history is as complex and diverse as the state of Texas. In fact, Baylor was founded in 1845 by the Republic of Texas, before Texas became a state. In 2020, Baylor’s Board of Regents established the Commission on Historic Campus Representations to review the historical record and context of the University, its founding in Independence, Texas, and its founders and early leaders.

The Commission confirmed that the University’s early history is linked to slavery and racial injustice. Each of the University’s founders — Judge R.E.B. Baylor, Rev. William Milton Tryon, and Rev. James Huckins — were slaveholders, as were most members of the University’s first Board of Trustees.

Given the era of the University’s founding and initial decades of operation, the agricultural economy of the region surrounding Independence at the time, and the importance of the financial support that slaveholding founders and early trustees provided the University, it is presumed that the labor of enslaved people, both directly and indirectly, played a significant role in Baylor’s history from the very beginning of the institution’s existence and throughout the University’s growth during its early years in Independence. The identities of these enslaved persons are unknown, but the University acknowledges their place in the Baylor story and humbly recognizes their contributions to the University’s early history.

While monuments to Baylor’s early leaders were placed on the Waco campus in celebration of such individuals’ vision to establish a Christian institution of higher education, it is important that the full story of their humanity is integrated into our history. Learning from and fully acknowledging the experiences of those who came before us is an act of Christian love that we are undertaking together. Baylor’s story is one we continue to write as we ensure the University is a community that values equity, condemns injustice, and offers a welcoming environment for all students, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors.

Learn more about the history of the representations in the historic center of campus:

Baylor has secured the expertise of Sasaki — a renowned architecture, planning, landscape, and design firm — to assist in historical master planning as University leadership strives to communicate and reflect the complete history of Baylor University for current and future generations.