Every Baylor Bear knows Rufus Burleson as the statue perched for generations in front of Old Main, right in the middle of the quadrangle that bears his name. But how much do you know about the former Baylor president who was born 190 years ago this week?
For instance, did you know that Burleson actually served two terms (from 1851-61 and again from 1886-97)? Or that he brought Baylor into the 20th century by instituting a policy of coeducation?
Did you know that when you celebrate President Burleson’s birthday, you are honoring a man whose roots in Texas extend far beyond his beloved Baylor? A longtime pastor, Burleson performed his share of baptisms — including the baptism of legendary Texas General and Governor Sam Houston, the man who led Texas’ battle for independence and later led Texas into the United States.
And more than likely, you’ve driven through the city of Burleson on the ride from Waco to Fort Worth. Yes, Burleson, Texas is indeed named after President Burleson.
There’s plenty more to learn about the man, and many stories (including examples of his sense of humor and his seeming sixth sense to catch students in the act of mischief) are found in Lois Smith Murray’s detailed history, Baylor at Independence.
Sic ’em (and happy 190th birthday), Rufus Burleson!