Faces of the Give Light Campaign

June 26, 2023
Hurd Welcome Center


This fall, Baylor University will open the doors of the Mark & Paula Hurd Welcome Center, the newest addition to its growing Waco campus. The impressive, modern building with nods to Baylor’s historic architecture sits along University Parks Drive and Interstate 35, greeting visitors as an inviting threshold to more than just the physical campus – but to the traditions, faith and history that help to make Baylor so special.

Many spaces, rooms and balconies of this show-stopping building carry with them the names of the alumni, parents and friends whose generous support of the Give Light Capital Fund fueled the construction and design of the many capital priorities of the Give Light Campaign. As the Campaign begins its last year, sunsetting in Spring 2024, we are taking some time to look at the ways Baylor’s donors have helped shape Baylor’s campus for the future – here are just a few of those incredible spaces and names inside the Hurd Welcome Center.

A Namesake to Honor a Legacy

In November 2018, the late Mark Hurd (BBA ’79) joined Baylor leaders on stage, announcing a generous lead gift from his family as Baylor University celebrated the public start of the Give Light Campaign, an ambitious $1.1 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign that sought to support the university’s rise to the highest tiers of higher education.

“Baylor University provides all of its students the skills necessary to succeed in academics, sports, business and life,” said Hurd, who served as the CEO of Oracle at the time. “From the unparalleled expertise of its professors to a culture that fosters integrity, service and excellence – Baylor University continues to transform its students into tomorrow’s leaders.”

After Mark’s death in 2019, his beloved wife Paula continued her support of the Welcome Center and the Give Light Campaign. Now a member of Baylor’s Board of Regents, like her husband before her, Paula is a passionate supporter of educational initiatives, both in her community in California and at Baylor, where she continues Mark’s legacy of leadership and transformational philanthropy.

A Welcome Like No Other

The Hurd Welcome Center was designed to immerse prospective students, parents, alumni and all other visitors into the Baylor experience from their first steps across its threshold – literally. As guests take their first steps into the awe-inspiring Carlton Hall, they will notice four striking columns – linking the building to Baylor’s original campus in Independence, Texas – punctuating the length of the impressive space, which transects the Welcome Center.

Carlton Hall’s striking features include a 70-foot-high ceiling, with natural light pouring in from windows on the north and south walls. On the floor, guests will find a brass line stretching along the breadth of Carlton Hall, disappearing into the double doors, leading out into Baylor’s campus. The line represents That Good Old Baylor Line, welcoming prospective students to start their Baylor journeys while also welcoming alumni home to their alma mater.

Carlton Hall recognizes the generosity of Bill (BBA’71) and Pat (BA ’71) Carlton, of Little Rock, Arkansas. Part of a long line of Baylor alumni, Bill and Pat have given generously to everything from scholarships and Baylor Athletics to capital projects like the Hurd Welcome Center and the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation.

Visitors will also enjoy the creation of seating areas in Carlton Hall – both for relaxing prior to a campus tour or to serve as a meeting place for reuniting alumni – which will grow the spaces where our Baylor Family can gather. The spaces, recognizing Dary and Lindy Stone, of Dallas, and Mark and Cathy Donnel, of McGregor, illustrate the many groups that make up our Baylor Family, both alumni, through the Stone family, and friends and parents, like the Donnels, whose children are their first generation of Baylor Bears.

An especially touching tribute to Baylor alumnus Dr. John Cheng, BA ’91, can be found at Carlton Hall’s welcome desk. The Cheng Welcome Desk was named in Dr. Cheng’s memory by his family, friends and members of his Kappa Omega Tau fraternity, to honor his life and his legacy, after he was killed saving others in a church shooting in May 2022. A plaque will be displayed in the space to share the story of Dr. Cheng’s exceptional life of service and his testimony with future generations of Baylor Bears.

To Light the Ways of Time

One striking feature of the Hurd Welcome Center is the cluster of four lighted columns, which help to shape the building’s singular silhouette. They are more than a design feature, though, as inside each column serves as an immersive experience, where prospective students can quite literally see the sights and hear the sounds of Baylor, from running the Baylor Line to celebrating the stories of impact from Baylor alumni around the world. Other columns help students imagine how their future aspirations are illuminated at Baylor and see themselves reflected in the Baylor Family.

The columns carry the names of Baylor alumni – those whose gifts helped fund the capital priorities of the campaign. Roger and Julie Lowe, of Lubbock, Shelley and Jack Harper, of Midland, The Ray and Ellen Deaver Family, of Waco, and The Bell Family, of Dallas – four families who have given to support That Good Old Baylor Line.

Gathering Spaces for Alumni and the Baylor Family

Branching off from Carlton Hall, guests will find all kinds of amenities, from Varsity Coffee and Soda and the Baylor Spirit Shop to a 1,000-seat ballroom to various lounge areas.

A beautiful and inviting new home for Baylor alumni can be found on the northwest end of the second floor in the McLane Family Alumni Center. 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.

The McLane Family Alumni Center includes a welcome area more akin to a cozy living room, with plush seating, a fireplace and memorabilia of Baylor past and present. The Randy and Myra Pullin Living Room for Baylor Alumni honors the generosity of Randy and Myra Pullin of Houston. Beyond the living room are private meeting spaces and conference rooms for alumni reuniting on campus and for alumni and volunteer leadership gatherings.

On the south end of the second floor, the Fudge Family Auditorium, with its panoramic window looking out on Baylor’s campus, provides an impressive first look for prospective students, as well as for attendees at special events, presentations and meetings. The auditorium’s state-of-the-art video and audio capabilities will help provide a memorable impression for guests. Jeremy and Kristy Fudge of Parker, Texas, and their family have provided transformational support for Baylor’s capital priorities, including the Fudge Football Development Center.

Exterior Spaces for Making Memories

Everyone in the Baylor Family has fond memories of traditions on our campus’s green spaces – whether celebrating Homecoming on Fountain Mall or tailgating at McLane Stadium – Baylor’s campus includes more than beautiful buildings.

The Maris Terrace, a stretch of green, landscaped lawns lying just south of the Hurd Welcome Center, will provide new spaces for students to make memories as they enjoy live music, food trucks or any number of planned student activities. The space is named after Mike and Micki Maris, of Plano, Texas, and their support of the Give Light Capital Fund.

Alumni also will enjoy a new vantage point for Baylor’s signature horizon from two balconies on the east and west sides of the Hurd Welcome Center – the Jeffrey Todd McBrayer Overlook and the Kelly and Joe Armes Overlook. Both spaces are named after Baylor alumni – Jeff McBrayer of Dallas and Joe and Kelly Armes of Dallas.

The generosity of these and other donors through the Give Light Campaign, equips Baylor to faithfully pursue its mission, “to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.” The Mark & Paula Hurd Welcome Center is a beautiful front door to the University that will welcome the Baylor Family old and new for generations to come.