Baylor’s Student Union Building formally opened to the campus community 65 years ago today. But the SUB — officially the Bill Daniel Student Center — is far from ready to retire, having reinvented itself many times over the years.
Groundbreaking for the SUB took place on June 1, 1940, on the site of what had been Carroll Field (previously home to Baylor football and baseball). The cornerstone was laid in December 1941 — just four days before Pearl Harbor was bombed. The rationing of construction supplies during World War II ground work to a halt in 1942, leaving a framework of steel girders standing in the middle of campus until 1946, and the building was not completed until 1947.
At its formal opening on Sept. 16, 1948, the SUB included lounges, offices, a bowling alley, snack area, cafeteria, barber shop, beauty parlor, and bookstore (which also operated as a drug store, complete with a “modern fountain service”). It even included a small apartment on the third floor, designed for the SUB director (but at one time also the home to President W.R. White).
In the 1950s, the dining room hosted roller skating on weekends, while the attic housed a rifle range for Baylor’s rifle teams and ROTC. Dr Pepper Hour and All-University Sing both began in the SUB in 1953. Visitors over the years have included Sandra Dee, Fabian, Jon Voigt, Gloria Steinem, and President George W. Bush. Known only as the Union Building or Student Union Building for its first three decades, the facility was officially named in honor of Gov. Bill Daniel in 1982 to honor his family’s decades of service to Baylor.
In recent years, there has been discussion of building a new student union building on the east side of campus that would better accommodate Baylor’s growing student body. But that wouldn’t be the end for the SUB; it would likely be remodeled into another academic building so that it can continue to serve the university for decades to come.
Sic ’em, SUB!