Mark & Paula Hurd Welcome Center Combines Baylor's History and Future

Contact: Shelby Cefaratti-Bertin, Baylor University Media & Public Relations, 254-327-8012
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WACO, Texas (July 6, 2023) – Baylor University’s spectacular Mark & Paula Hurd Welcome Center proudly represents a new front door to the University, an impressive, multi-faceted facility designed with prospective and current students, alumni and the entire Baylor Family in mind. Numerous details throughout the center honor Baylor's history while simultaneously pointing toward its bright future. Some details are subtle nods to the campus, while others shine the Baylor light for all to see.

This is the first in a series of fun and informative articles introducing you to the Hurd Welcome Center, already affectionally known as “The Hurd,” and giving you the inside scoop on the best times to visit the spaces inside – once they open to the public later this summer.

Each aspect of the Hurd Welcome Center has been planned with care and consideration to elevate both aesthetics and functionality. Designed by global design firm Populous, which has created some of the world’s most iconic venues and arenas, including Baylor’s McLane Stadium, the Hurd Welcome Center’s architecture juxtaposes the classic Baylor red brick with a modern flair, alluding to Baylor’s forward trajectory as a preeminent Christian research university. The combination of classic and contemporary has created a unique structure that richly adds to the charm of the campus – a campus named one of the most beautiful university campuses in the country.

Among the most prominent features are the four lighted columns that extend up through the roof of the building into the Texas sky, adding to the iconic Baylor skyline. The columns link the Hurd Welcome Center to Baylor’s original campus in Independence, Texas, where four stone columns still stand from one of the University’s original buildings.  At night, they will be illuminated beacons for hundreds of thousands traveling along Interstate 35 and around campus.

Visitors to the Hurd Welcome Center will have fun identifying several other symbolic surprises sprinkled throughout the building. For example:

Inside of Hurd Welcome Center
  • White crossbeams offset the glass walls in the Bill and Pat Carlton Grand Hall and are a nod to the numerous Live Oak trees throughout the Baylor campus. 
  • A golden line of brass is inlaid in the marble floor through the entire length of Carlton Hall, representing “That Good Old Baylor Line,” and starting prospective students on their Baylor journeys while also welcoming alumni home to their alma mater.
  • Dr Pepper-infused drinks will be an exclusive offering at the Varsity Coffee and Soda shop, which ties Baylor’s beloved Dr Pepper Hour tradition to Waco, the birthplace of Dr Pepper. The Varsity opens later this summer.
  • Speaking of the Varsity Coffee and Soda, the ceiling inside the shop features a chandelier that is a map of downtown Waco.

More details will be shared over the next couple of months as the finishing touches are added to this exciting new building celebrating more than 178 years of history and the bright future for Baylor University. 


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 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 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.