Baylor Celebrates Dedication of Rosenbalm Fountain, Fifth Street Thoroughfare

  • Fountain Dedication Dr. Rosenbalm
    Dr. Thomas J. Rosenbalm in front of Baylor's Rosenbalm Fountain, named in honor of his late parents, Clarence and Claudia Rosenbalm, of Bartlett, Texas. (Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing and Communications)
  • Fountain Dedication Group
    Dr. Thomas J. Rosenbalm in front of Baylor's Rosenbalm Fountain with his friends and neighbors from The Village at Gleannloch Farms in Spring, Texas. (Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing and Communications)
  • Fountain Dedication Dr. Rosenbalm family
    (L to R) - Baylor President Ken Starr; Dr. Thomas J. Rosenbalm; grandson, Paul Carpenter; daughter, Dr. Laura Carpenter; granddaughter, Rachel Carpenter; son-in-law Dr. Robert Carpenter; and Richard Willis, chairman of Baylor's Board of Regents. (Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing & Communications)
  • Fountain Dedication Starrs
    Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr and First Lady Alice Starr with Dr. Thomas J. Rosenbalm before the dedication of Rosenbalm Fountain. (Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing & Communications)
  • Fountain Dedication McMullen
    Because of rain, the dedication of the Rosenbalm Fountain was moved inside the McMullen-Connally Faculty Center, which was standing-room only. (Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing & Communications)
  • Fountain Dedication
    (L to R) Dr. Laura Carpenter, Dr. Thomas J. Rosenbalm, and Baylor President Ken Starr. (Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing & Communications)
  • Fountain Dedication Brittany Tew
    In her remarks, Baylor senior Brittany Tew, a double major in neuroscience and biology, said remarked that Rosenbalm Fountain illustrates Baylor's commitment to excellence and dedication to continuous improvement in every area. (Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing & Communications)
  • Fountain Dedication Starr
    Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr thanked Dr. Thomas J. Rosenbalm for "honoring his parents" during the dedication of Rosenbalm Fountain. (Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing & Communications)
  • Fountain Dedication Coins
    Baylor senior Brittany Tew presented Dr. Thomas J. Rosenbalm with with a collection of Rosenbalm Fountain coins from the senior class to show its appreciation for his generous gift. (Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing & Communications)
  • Fountain Dedication 5th Street
    A look down Fifth Street toward Interstate 35. The new plaza features Rosenbalm Fountain, the centerpiece of a beautification and improvement project that has revived a part of campus central to many of Baylor's great traditions. (Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing & Communications)
Oct. 23, 2015

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275

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WACO, Texas (Oct. 23, 2015) – Heavy rain on the Baylor University campus did not dampen the spirits of those who gathered Friday to celebrate the dedication of the Rosenbalm Fountain, the centerpiece of a beautification and improvement project that has revived a part of campus central to many of Baylor’s great traditions.

The project was made possible by an $8 million gift announced in July 2014 by Dr. Thomas J. Rosenbalm, B.A. ’50, M.A. ’51, of Houston, in honor of his late parents, Clarence and Claudia Rosenbalm, of Bartlett, Texas. Dr. Rosenbalm’s parents and sister, Dorothy, shaped his life and helped support his path to success as a prominent Houston physician.

“The family exhibits the best of that for which Baylor stands – the family coming together in support of our students, with all its members acting as one so that our students may reach heights of success that they might not attain on their own,” said Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr.

“We are deeply grateful to Dr. Rosenbalm for his remarkable act of generosity that has so beautifully transformed our campus. Fifth Street is home to our most cherished university traditions and has now been rejuvenated as an extraordinarily meaningful gathering space on our campus – a source of inspiration, a quiet place for reflection and a destination for the Baylor family to join together. It is fitting that the signature fountain honors his mother and father and the value they attached to hard work, integrity and higher education,” Starr said.

In attendance for the dedication were Dr. Rosenbalm, his daughter, Dr. Laura Carpenter, and her husband, Dr. Robert Carpenter, and their two children, Paul and Rachel, as well as a busload of Dr. Rosenbalm’s friends and neighbors from The Village at Gleannloch Farms in Spring, Texas.

Also recognized at the ceremony were Baylor Regents and administrators, the contractor and architects (Beck Construction, Office of James Burnett, Walker Partners, Fitzgerald Landscaper), Baylor’s construction services team and special guest Dr. Paul Klotman, president and CEO of Baylor College of Medicine.

Fountain returns to Fountain Mall

Friday’s event, which was moved indoors to the McMullen-Connally Faculty Center, celebrated not only the fountain dedication but the return of a namesake to Fountain Mall.

Fifty years ago, Baylor’s Chamber of Commerce funded and built a fountain along Fifth Street in an area originally known as University Mall, a field that bordered Baylor’s original campus.

This unnamed fountain was dedicated on Feb. 1, 1965, and marked the dividing line between what was known then as the “old” and “new” campuses. Commemorating the 120th anniversary of Baylor’s founding, a small group of Baylor faithful braved 38-degree weather to mark this historic event.

Unfortunately, the fountain did not stand the test of time.

The new Rosenbalm Fountain – made of Lake Superior Green granite quarried in Isabella, Minnesota – features 12 radial jets that shoot up into the bowl. The fountain bowl – made of reinforced precast colored concrete – is 4-feet high and 20 feet in diameter and weighs more than 17,000 tons. The bowl has a basin capacity of more than 17,000 gallons and a storage basin of 13,700 gallons to allow for reuse of water. It was cast in Morrow, Georgia, and transported 850 miles to Waco with a police escort for most of the journey. The bowl features five jets coming from the center, the middle of which has the capacity to shoot 30 feet into the air. Rosenbalm Fountain’s jet and lighting displays also can be customized.

“As we observe the 170th year in the life of this institution, and as we look to the future from a vantage that is 50 years after the first dedication and naming of Fountain Mall, we celebrate the return of a touchstone to the heart of campus,” said Richard Willis, B.B.A. ’81, M.B.A. ’82, chair of the Baylor Board of Regents. “Since 1909, Baylor has a proud tradition of celebrating the return of the Baylor family to campus for Homecoming. Fountain Mall has been witness to generations of Homecoming Bonfires, freshmen guarding the Eternal Flame, and Pat Neff lighting up green after victories not only on the gridiron but the basketball court, tennis courts and more.

“Today, we express our deepest gratitude to the Rosenbalm family for bringing new life to a place on campus that is central to many Baylor experiences,” Willis said.

Rallying together

Baylor senior Brittany Tew, who is double-majoring in neuroscience and biology and plans to attend Baylor College of Medicine, spoke at the ceremony and gave the prayer of dedication. Several generations of Tew’s family attended Baylor, including her great-grandfather, grandfather and parents.

“Upon my arrival at Baylor three years ago, it seemed that Fountain Mall was a misnomer, as there was neither a fountain nor a mall here,” Tew said. “Today, Baylor makes history as we celebrate this beautiful addition to the Baylor campus, where students can again use this site to rally together in the center and heart of our beautiful campus.”

Tew remarked that Rosenbalm Fountain illustrates Baylor’s commitment to excellence and dedication to continuous improvement in every area.

With the installation of the new fountain, the university will begin a new tradition for Baylor students. Tew held a shadow box that displayed a small sampling of Rosenbalm Fountain coins that will be given to Baylor seniors each year on which they will write messages of hope, their dreams for the future and their prayers for their time here. She presented Dr. Rosenbalm with a collection of coins from the senior class to show its appreciation for his generous gift.

“As young adults we are like these waters – constantly moving, changing and becoming who God created us to be, so that we can flow from here to become tomorrow’s leaders, skilled professionals, responsible citizens, compassionate servants and dedicated scholars who will impact, change and define the world for future generations,” Tew said. “The new Rosenbalm Fountain represents the creative endeavor to reveal God’s beauty and provide a place for reflection of hopes and dreams. Baylor students and the larger Baylor family will forever be grateful for the generous gift from Dr. Thomas Rosenbalm that made this project possible.”

A plaque tells the story of Rosenbalm Fountain and Dr. Rosenbalm’s transformational gift:

    “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14

    Baylor University gratefully acknowledges the generosity of spirit which guided Dr. Thomas J. Rosenbalm of Houston, Texas, in supporting the beautification and improvement of 5th Street and Fountain Mall. His transformational gift made in honor of his parents, Clarence and Claudia Rosenbalm, of Bartlett, Texas, restored an essential touchstone of the University’s identity as Fountain Mall reclaimed its namesake through the Rosenbalm Fountain.

    This incredible generosity springs forth from Dr. Rosenbalm’s desire to honor those who shaped his life and helped support his path to success. It was their sacrifices that allowed Dr. Rosenbalm, a prominent Houston physician and United States Air Force veteran, to realize his aspirations.

    As a family with humble beginnings, Clarence and Claudia knew the importance of hard work, integrity and education. After Dr. Rosenbalm earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry in 1950 and his master’s degree in 1951, both from Baylor University, his dreams of being a doctor were realized, as his sister Dorothy Rosenbalm joined his parents in helping to pay his tuition to Baylor College of Medicine.

    The Rosenbalm legacy continued through Dr. Rosenbalm’s daughter, Dr. Laura R. Carpenter, who also obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1991 and 1993 from Baylor University and her PhD in Immunology and Microbiology from Rush University. Laura’s husband, Robert Carpenter, is a fellow Baylor alumnus with his bachelor’s degree and Master’s degrees in 1990, 1991 and 1993, as well as his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from Midwestern University. Laura and Robert have two children, Paul and Rachel. The family’s humble generosity once again manifested itself in a transformational gift from Dorothy’s estate to help complete construction of the Elliston Chapel which is located near the East Village and Earle Hall, the Sciences and Health Living Learning Center.

    Dr. Rosenbalm’s desire to provide a gathering place – a source of inspiration, a quiet place for reflection, a destination for the Baylor family to join together – rejuvenated one of the campus’s original thoroughfares with the completion of construction in 2015. May this family’s example of selfless sacrifice for one another and joyful giving to this beloved institution serve as inspiration for the generations of Baylor students to come.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

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