Baylor University Breaks Ground on Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center

February 21, 2020

Building will serve as front door for visitors and alumni to campus

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-710-6275
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WACO, Texas (Feb. 21, 2020) – Baylor University today hosted a groundbreaking ceremony honoring the philanthropy of Paula Hurd and the late Mark Hurd, who together provided the naming gift for the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center, and kicking off the construction of a new multi-purpose facility that will serve as an exciting new entry point to Baylor’s campus.

Paula Hurd and family joined Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., as well as members of the Baylor Board of Regents and the University’s administration, to celebrate this significant next step in the growth of Baylor’s campus.

“True leaders step forward courageously when they are called upon to make bold decisions that will impact others for years to come,” President Livingstone said. “Mark and Paula Hurd are truly leaders in every sense of the word for Baylor University. We are grateful that Paula and her family joined us to break ground on this bold and ambitious project that spurred forward not just a building on Baylor’s campus, but also a philanthropic campaign that will shape the future of Baylor for generations to come. We are saddened that Mark could not be here to celebrate this historic day with us, but we are so thankful that we can honor his life and legacy at Baylor today and through this building that will bear his and Paula’s names.”

The groundbreaking served as a time to honor the legacy of Mark Hurd, a 1979 graduate of Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business, who passed away in October 2019. Mark Hurd was the chief executive officer (CEO) of Oracle Corporation and a member of Oracle’s board of directors. He also served as Vice Chairman for Baylor’s Board of Regents. Together, Mark and Paula Hurd served as co-chairs on the National Campaign Steering Committee for the Give Light Campaign.

The Hurds’ gift was the first major gift announced as part of the November 2018 public launch for Give Light: The Campaign for Baylor, the University’s $1.1 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign, of which $841.3 million has been raised to date. During that event, Mark Hurd participated in the campaign’s launch celebration, speaking to the importance of supporting his alma mater and calling on his fellow alumni to give in support of the University’s aspirations for growth. Paula Hurd and their two daughters, Kelly, BBA ’14, and Kathryn, attended Friday’s groundbreaking.

“Many people knew my husband Mark as a visionary business leader, so closely associated with creating significant growth at multiple companies. But, those who knew him personally knew that he was also passionate about giving back to the causes and organizations that he held dear,” Paula Hurd said. “As a family, we are proud that the welcome center will bear our family’s name and continue our family’s Baylor legacy – a legacy that began with him and continues through us. A legacy that is committed to serving our community and supporting programs and institutions that aim to have an impact upon our world.”

Plans for the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center feature a 120,000-square-foot complex designed to create interest and enthusiasm in the University through a high-tech and interactive experience. Positioned at the corner of Interstate 35 and University Parks Drive, the $60 million project will serve as the hub for the approximately 60,000 prospective students, families, alumni and other guests who currently visit campus. Strategic development of the property surrounding the welcome center is anticipated to include businesses that will solidify the center as a travel and visitor destination for both Baylor and the Waco community.

Major features of the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center will include:

  • Grand Hall – Light-filled, expansive space that provides an open door to campus for prospective students and alumni, interactive exhibits and a connection point for Baylor’s past and future.
  • Admissions Lobby – Inviting space welcoming prospective students and their families to Baylor.
  • Ballroom – A 1,000-seat venue designed to host presentations and dinners, with the ability to convert into smaller meeting spaces for students and alumni.
  • Spirit Shop – Fan-themed, high-end retail space with the latest Baylor apparel.
  • Restaurant – Healthy food fare in a Baylor-themed space.
  • Auditorium – A suspended, 250-seat venue that opens up to a stunning view of Pat Neff Hall and the beautiful Baylor campus.
  • Admissions Offices – Collaborative space designed for engagement with prospective students and families.
  • Alumni Offices – New permanent home for Baylor Alumni staff as they serve the University’s 150,000 living alumni.
  • Exterior Terrace – Shaded, outdoor breezeway provides views of McLane Stadium and the Brazos River, while also offering covered space for alumni receptions.
  • Central Green – Green space for outdoor events and concerts.
  • Pavilion on the Green – Bright, window-filled pavilion that anchors the Central Green as a welcoming venue for student meetings, alumni and donor events.

“The Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center will transform the ways Baylor University interacts with our prospective students, alumni and the thousands of visitors who come to our campus each year,” said Vice President for Advancement David Rosselli. “We are truly humbled by the generosity of the entire Hurd family, and we are grateful that they sought to extend their legacy at Baylor through this incredible gift. Mark Hurd was a visionary leader, and we give thanks that this bold addition to our Baylor campus will carry the Hurd namesake.”

Site work is expected to begin this spring, with an anticipated completion date in spring 2022.

In February, Mark and Paula Hurd also were recognized with the Baylor University Founders Medal, which recognizes men and women for their service and contributions unusually significant to the life and future of Baylor. In 2012, Mark Hurd was awarded the Baylor University Meritorious Achievement Award for his philanthropy and extraordinary service. Mark and Paula Hurd, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, also have supported Baylor’s national championship tennis program by upgrading and renovating the Hurd Tennis Center, ranked by Tennis magazine as the best facility in college tennis.

For more information or to support Give Light: The Campaign for Baylor, visit


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 18,000 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 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.