12 buildings at Baylor named in honor of Baylor women
When Baylor was chartered in 1845, it was one of the first coeducational colleges or universities west of the Mississippi River — about 10 years before any public institution of higher learning would introduce mixed-gender learning, and a full 75 years before American women were guaranteed the right to vote.
Since that groundbreaking beginning, countless women have impacted our university in a wide variety of ways. Some of them have been given one of the ultimate, lasting honors — having a location on campus named expressly for them:
* Alexander Residence Hall — In 1939, more than 100 deserving female students were turned down for admission simply because there was not enough housing at Baylor to accommodate them. To help solve that problem, Catherine Alexander, a widowed Southern Baptist missionary, provided the lead gift of $350,000 that made Alexander Hall a reality.
* Allen Residence Hall — Gladys Allen, Baylor Class of 1918, was a Waco-area teacher, an early researcher on gender inequality in higher education, and a member of Baylor’s Board from 1941-47 and 1951-53. In honor of her commitment to the university and the Waco community, Baylor named Allen Hall in her honor in 1956.
* Burleson Hall — One of the oldest buildings on campus, Burleson Hall is named not for former Baylor President Rufus Burleson, but for his wife, Georgia Burleson. Georgia, known for her strong character, believed that female education was an important component of life at Baylor, and served as matron for the building (then a dormitory) that bore her name.
* Collins Residence Hall — Ruth Collins Hall was completed in 1957 and was named for Ruth Collins, the wife of a Baylor trustee and benefactor. At the time of its construction, it was the largest building in Waco.
* Dawson Residence Hall — Opened in 1954 as “North Hall,” this women’s residence hall was renamed three years later for Willie Turner Dawson, wife of longtime Waco pastor and author J.M. Dawson, in appreciation for her numerous “good deeds done for Baylor and Baylor students,” which included helping raise funds for Memorial Hall (see below) and teaching a women’s Sunday School class for many years.
* Earle Hall — Dr. Hallie Earle, BA 1901, MS 1902, was the first licensed female physician in Waco. In 2013, Baylor opened up a residence hall to house Baylor’s Science & Health Living-Learning Center, and named it Earle Hall in her honor.
* Louise Herrington School of Nursing Academic Building — Louise Herrington Ornelas (or “Ms. Lou,” as students called her) was neither a Baylor graduate nor a nurse, but dedicated much of her life to Baylor nursing students. In 1999, her $13 million gift led to the school being formally named the Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON). In 2015, another lead gift made possible the purchase of the Baptist General Convention of Texas building in Dallas, which has since become the new academic home for LHSON.
* Mary Gibbs Jones Family & Consumer Sciences Building — Mary Gibbs was born 40 miles east of Waco in 1872, and attended college at a time when few women even finished high school. Her exposure to literature, music, education and other cultures through extensive travel kindled a lifelong interest in learning and the arts. The Mary Gibbs Jones Family and Consumer Sciences building was named in her honor in 1976.
* McCrary Music Building — A magna cum laude graduate of Baylor in 1929, Glennis McCrary Goodrich was a loyal alumna and generous benefactress. An astute businesswoman, she managed her own business affairs following the death of her husband and focused much of her philanthropy on Baylor. In 1993, the McCrary Music Building was made possible by her generous donations.
* Rena Marrs McLean Gymnasium — Rena Marrs McLean Gymnasium was dedicated during Founders Day festivities in 1938 and remains the home of the Department of Health, Human Performance, and Recreation. Marrs McLean was a renowned oil-man and honorary Baylor graduate who donated substantially toward the building and suggested the name to honor his mother, Rena Marrs McLean.
* Roxy Grove Hall — After earning two Baylor music degrees, serving as a missionary, and working as a nurse and teacher during World War I, Dr. Roxy Grove, AB 1908, served as the first chair of the Baylor School of Music from 1926-42. In 1956, Roxy Grove Hall opened and was named in her honor.
* Stacy Riddle Forum — Stacy Riddle Baumgartner was a Baylor Kappa from the class of ’89 whose sorority experiences strongly shaped her life. Dedicated in 2003 with a generous gift from the Riddle Foundation, the Stacy Riddle Forum is today a space for Baylor Greek life to come together.
In addition to those buildings expressly named for individual Baylor women, there’s also:
- the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, named in honor of the school’s founding dean in 2015;
- Memorial Residence Hall, originally named “Women’s Memorial Dormitory” in honor of the Women’s Missionary Union, whose fundraising made the facility possible;
- Betty Lou Mays Soccer Field, dedicated in 2000 to honor a longtime Baylor supporter;
- the Sadie Jo Black Gardens, a pet project of the longtime Baylor professor;
- Vara Martin Daniel Plaza, one of the most popular study spots on campus; and
- multiple other buildings around campus named in honor of Baylor couples (the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center, Julie and Jim Turner Riverfront Athletic Complex, Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat, etc.).
Sic ’em, Baylor women!