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Rich history, age-old traditions deepen character of Baylor's campus

Nov. 12, 1997

Students, faculty alike relate to, respect university symbols, monuments from years ago

By Mo Sadjadpour

Reporter for The Baylor Lariat

The massive trees have started molting and their leaves have started to change to colors of auburn and orange. The air is chilly and there is a gentle mist upon the cool grass.

In the distance there is the reliable chime of the bells that signal 10 a.m. has arrived once again. Most of the students are scurrying to class but there are few figures that stand motionless. They watch over the campus with a sobering peace.

The Baylor campus is rich with history and tradition. We have over 150 years under our belt and with that has come wonderful monuments that bring our vivid past to the present.

Campus monuments

'All the tradition here shows how meticulously Baylor was put together,' Ben Alexander, a Dallas junior, said. 'There is a reason behind everything at Baylor. If you walk across campus you know that there is a story behind all the monuments here.'

Judge R.E.B. Baylor, William Milton Tryon and James Huckins founded our university and their monuments watch over the campus every day, but many times they go unnoticed.

The class of 1907 left its permanent mark on campus, but many just pass by or share a conversation on their landmark. Rufus C. Burleson has tipped his hat for students on this campus. He and the famous top hat watch over Baylor day and night.

Then there are the famous carillon bells which have recently been replaced, but their rich tradition of chorals and hymns have graced the campus for years.

Last, but not least, are those ever-forgotten red granite lightposts that illuminate Baylor. Many don't know that they represent lives given in the service of this country.

Important people of the past

Behind the rich legacy of Baylor are the people who have formed the history on our campus.

'So many of the people that have made Baylor's tradition and history rich have a love for Baylor. It was and is a special place to people,' Dr. Alton Hassell, professor of chemistry, said.

William Milton Tryon, James Huckins and Judge Baylor had an idea long ago of a Baptist university. This dream was realized and transformed into what we have today.

These three men have not left Baylor. They watch over the students everyday. Judge Baylor is perched among the trees watching students as they attend Chapel Forum. Tryon and Huckins light up the campus with their presence along either side of Baylor. Their figures have been transformed into granite pillars that back the judge.

Symbols from the students

These men are not the only ones that light up Baylor campus. William Silver Edgar lights up Fountain Mall every day and Robert Warren illuminates the courtyard by the Carroll Science Hall. These two men, along with 123 other Baylor men and women, made the supreme sacrifice in World War II. Now they stand as the honor guard at Baylor in the form of red granite light posts.

This first group of light posts was dedicated on Oct. 25, 1946. A plaque engraved with the name of someone who died was attached to every post .

As the size of campus grew, additional lightposts were erected to commemorate the death of other loved ones.

'The lamposts on campus are important to me because they bear the names of many of my friends who fought in the Korean War and lost their lives,' Dr. William Hillis, vice president of student life, said.

Another symbol of the students on this campus is the granite bench that rests beside Carroll Hall. The thing that makes this landmark so significant is its age. This year it turned 90. It is nearly half as old as our country and has graced the seats of six different Baylor presidents. It has also survived two world wars and some serious renovations and construction all around it. This is a lasting symbol of the students of Baylor.

Across the way from the bench is the statue of Rufus C. Burleson, one of the 11 former presidents of our university. His presence on this campus has lasted far beyond his years.

On his commemorative statue is the hat that Burleson holds. The hat is presently filled in with cement.

Originally it was empty, but long ago the infamous NoZe Brothers thought it would be funny to call the fire department and proclaim, 'Burleson's on fire!' 'Burleson's on fire!'

The fire department showed up thinking the actual building was on fire, only to find a few smoldering ashes in the top hat.

The NoZe Brothers had filled the hat with leaves and set it ablaze. No harm was done, but the fire department thought the problem should be solved and therefore the hat was filled with cement.

Beautiful Bells

One of the unseen but always heard landmarks at Baylor are the carillon bells.

They can be heard everyday and they have been key in forming present and past student experiences at Baylor.

Dr. Hillis said when he was a student, he heared the hymns played by the bells and they reminded him that God was watching over him.

'The bells represent more than music but penetrate right through the heart,' Hillis said.

The Drayton McClane family and the McClane Company recently gave Baylor 48 new bronze bells that rest in Pat Neff Tower. These new bells will play hymns into the next century and carry a rich tradition on.

These traditions and many more can be read about in depth in a pamphlet that Baylor puts out as well as in the Student Foundation Handbook, which gives in-depth information on the history of Baylor.

Each year men and women will return to their alma mater and see the rich tradition of the university and the permanent windows of our past will be here to greet them.

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