Baylor University Dedicates Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center

September 8, 2023
Hurd Ribbon-Cutting

Ribbon-cutting officially opens spectacular “front door” to campus, honors gift from Hurd family

WACO, Texas (Sept. 8, 2023) – Baylor University today dedicated the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center – the new front door to the University’s Waco campus – during a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house commemorating the spectacular building’s official opening. The dedication recognized the Hurd Welcome Center’s namesake and lead donors, Paula Hurd and her late husband, Mark Hurd, and their daughters, Kelly, B.B.A. ’14, and Kathryn.

“If it weren’t for the vision of Mark and Paula Hurd and their generosity, we would not be here today, dedicating the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center, a truly magnificent and welcoming front door to Baylor University,” said Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D. “The Hurds’ vision, their passion for Baylor and the significant support they have provided have changed the face of the campus through facilities like the Hurd Welcome Center. On behalf of the Baylor Family – our faculty, staff, students and alumni – I share our deepest gratitude for the Hurd family, for their generosity, their deep love for Baylor and their care and concern that will make our University a better place not just now but for all ages to come.”

The Hurd Welcome Center is a 136,000-square-foot complex designed to create interest and enthusiasm in the University through a high-tech and interactive experience. Approximately 1,500 donors supported the construction of the Hurd Welcome Center through gifts to the Give Light Capital Fund, the Bricks for Baylor campaign and more. Positioned at the corner of Interstate 35 and University Parks Drive, it will serve as the hub for the approximately 60,000 prospective students, families, alumni and other guests who currently visit campus each year.

“Our family is absolutely thrilled with the Hurd Welcome Center,” said Paula Hurd. “When we made this gift, Mark had a vision for how a welcome experience could transform this corner of campus, and the outcome has by far exceeded our expectations and dreams. I know he would be proud of not only what has been built but the way in which others in the Baylor Family rallied around the Give Light Campaign to generate more than $1.39 billion in gifts to support the University he loved.”

The Hurd Welcome Center is named after Paula Hurd and her late husband, Mark, a 1979 graduate of Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business. Mark Hurd was CEO of Oracle and vice chair of the Baylor Board of Regents when he passed away in 2019. Paula Hurd was elected as a Baylor Regent in May 2020 and continues her service as a dedicated member of the Board. The Hurds’ lead gift to the welcome center was announced in 2018 in conjunction with the public launch of Give Light, the University’s $1.1 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign that has surpassed the initial goal, raising more than $1.39 billion.

The Friday dedication officially opened the Hurd Welcome Center, which had been available for the Baylor Family to explore since early August. The University also celebrated the grand opening with HOWDY at the Hurd, presented by Pi Beta Phi and Baylor University. The outdoor student festival on the facility’s south lawn featured local food trucks, line dancing, a Ferris wheel and more, and concluded with a free concert by rising country star Bailey Zimmerman and a dazzling drone show over campus.

The Hurd Welcome Center's striking features, spaces and amenities include:

  • McLane Family Alumni Center – A new place for Baylor Alumni to call home, the McLane Family Alumni Center is where Baylor Alumni staff will serve the University’s more than 150,000 living alumni, and visitors to campus can find a place to reconnect with one another. The naming reflects recognition for Drayton and Elizabeth McLane, as well as their sons and daughters-in-law – Drayton III and Amy McLane and Denton and Amy McLane – whose family legacy and history of generous support for Baylor and her alumni continues to be written.
  • Carlton Hall – This stunning light-filled, expansive space provides an open door to campus for prospective students and alumni, interactive exhibits and a connection point for Baylor’s past and future. Carlton Hall is named after Pat Carlton, B.A. ’71, and the late Bill Carlton, B.B.A. ’71, of Little Rock, Arkansas, who have given generously to everything from scholarships and Baylor Athletics to capital projects like the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation.
  • Ballroom – This upscale 1,000-seat venue is designed to host events, such as banquets, conferences and presentations, with the flexibility to convert into smaller meeting spaces for students and alumni.
  • Spirit Shop – The fan-themed, high-end retail space provides the latest Baylor-branded Nike apparel and more.
  • Admissions Center – An inviting space for prospective students and their families, the Admissions Center provides a warm, welcoming first look at the Baylor campus and sets the tone for visits as future students imagine themselves as Baylor Bears.
  • Varsity Coffee Shop – The Varsity provides the region’s only Peet’s Coffee brand and includes light fare and Dr Pepper floats. It’s a perfect place for coffee and snacks as visitors take in the Hurd Welcome Center.
  • Fudge Family Auditorium – A suspended, 250-seat venue provides a stunning panoramic view of Pat Neff Hall and the beautiful Baylor campus. The auditorium is named in honor Jeremy and Kristy Fudge of Parker, Texas, who, along with their family, provided transformational support for Baylor’s capital priorities, including the Fudge Football Development Center.
  • Cheng Welcome Desk – This new welcome desk area greets visitors and welcomes alumni home. Named in memory of Dr. John Cheng, B.A. ’91, by his family, friends and members of his Kappa Omega Tau fraternity, the Cheng Welcome Desk honors his life and his legacy, after he was killed saving others in a church shooting in May 2022.
  • Maris Terrace – The shaded, outdoor breezeway provides views of McLane Stadium and the Brazos River, while also offering covered space for alumni receptions. The space is named after Mike and Micki Maris, of Plano, Texas, celebrating their support of the Give Light Capital Fund.
  • Central Green – Also known as the South Lawn, this green space is ideal for outdoor events and concerts.
  • Pavilion on the Green – A bright, window-filled pavilion that anchors the Central Green is a welcoming venue for student meetings, alumni and donor events.

A Legacy of Support

The Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center’s name recognizes the generosity of Paula and the late Mark Hurd, whose generous leadership gift in 2018 helped launch the public phase of the Give Light campaign.

The Hurd Family’s Baylor legacy began in 1975 when Mark Hurd came to Baylor as a student-athlete, proudly claiming his spot in That Good Old Baylor Line as a scholarship-member of the men’s tennis team. During his time at Baylor, he pursued community as passionately as he played, earning two varsity letters, serving as president of his fraternity and graduating in 1979 with his bachelors in business administration degree.

"Baylor taught me a lot of important lessons: How to be an effective leader; the importance of building teams aligned to a common goal and the value of being part of a community," Mark said in 2012.

Mark began his career at NCR Corp., where his 25 years with the corporation culminated in his appointment as chief executive officer. He joined HP in 2005 as chief executive officer and president and was named chairman of the board of directors in 2006. In 2010, Mark became president, and later chief executive officer, of Oracle Corp. He was a member of Oracle’s board of directors at the time of his death in October 2019.

Mark and Paula, a University of Texas at Austin alumna, married in 1990 and shared two daughters, Kelly, B.B.A. ’14, and Kathryn. Kelly followed her father’s footsteps to Baylor, and Paula was later honored as a Baylor Alumna By Choice, a program that honors faithful friends of the University who love Baylor and support Baylor’s mission in a variety of ways. Together, Mark and Paula supported Baylor University through their service as co-chairs of the National Campaign Steering Committee for the Give Light Campaign. Before his death, Mark served as vice chairman of Baylor’s Board of Regents. Paula is a current member of the Board of Regents.

Through their visionary giving, the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center has become a front door for the University, welcoming new students, beckoning alumni home and creating community for visitors, while helping the University to tell its story of global impact, made possible because of the generosity of families like Mark and Paula Hurd.

Baylor publicly launched the Give Light campaign on Nov. 1, 2018. To date, the campaign has raised $1.39 billion. The Campaign has seen 95,826 alumni, parents and friends give to the University’s priorities. 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 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.