UMHB celebrates its 175th anniversary

UMHB’s campus in 1921, with the entrance and circular driveway onto campus. The school’s first building, Luther Hall, stood at the far end of the circle.

UMHB’s circle in 2020. Luther Memorial, constructed in 1955, can be seen behind the UMHB letters and grass in the center of the circle.

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor kicked off its 175th birthday celebration with a family-style dinner that included chicken, green beans and apple pie on Saturday, Feb. 1. Two hundred and sixty people attended the gathering, representing alumni from the years 1946-2019.

“All dining on campus used to be family-style,” UMHB Alumni Director Jeff Sutton said. “This was a throwback memory for a lot of our alumni.”

The night ended with a candle lighting ceremony at which alumni shared their love and support of the university. This year the tradition was taken to the internet, and over 500 alumni checked in across the globe, offering a way for everyone to connect even if they could not physically make it to the celebrations.

A celebration, complete with a photo booth and school-colored cupcakes followed the candle lighting in the Bawcom Student Union. President Randy O’Rear and his wife Julie led attendees in a song of “Happy Birthday” and blew out candles on a cake, denoting 175 years. Feb. 1 has been coined by the City of Belton as the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Day. This is because on that day in 1845, the Ninth Congress of the Republic of Texas granted a charter to the university that provided the framework to form two universities: UMHB and Baylor.

The school has since grown and changed drastically. UMHB is now in a different location than it was in 1845. The school used to be located in Independence, and it was a women’s school until 1971.

Present-day students now shared their more recent memories and wishes for UMHB at the birthday gathering in Bawcom.

“My favorite memory at UMHB is Midnight March,” student Laela Collins said. “It’s my favorite tradition because I spend it with all my closest friends.”
The gathering meant even more than that to Collins, as it is one of the closing events of the year.

“It gave us an opportunity to say goodbye to those friends that are about to graduate and start their lives,” Collins said. “It’s really touching to be together as a student body.”

For first-year student Joftnnia Holts, Welcome Week has been the most fun so far.

“I got to know a lot of new people and everyone is so different!” Holts said. “I have a lot of friends from a lot of classifications.”
Another Charter Celebration will be held on Saturday, April 18, 2020 in Independence Texas. It will include a chapel service in the historic Independence Baptist Church, followed by a luncheon on the lawn.

Other upcoming events commemorating UMHB’s 175th birthday include Belton’s Fourth of July Parade with the school’s float that will feature its birthday year, and UMHB’s Homecoming Birthday Bash on October 17, 2020. Visit for a full schedule of events and to register. Alumni all over the world are encouraged to continue to check in at › 175 and share their university greetings.


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