On Friday, Oct. 19, the university held a special dedication ceremony for its newest facility, the Baugh Center for the Visual Arts. Over 200 people were in attendance for the event, which marked a major leap in the development of the university’s fine arts programs.

During the ceremony, President Randy O’Rear traced the influence of art on the university back to its early days. In the 1860s the university was located in Independence, Texas, and known as Baylor Female College. At the time, Harry McArdle, a draftsman for the Confederate Navy, instructed students in the basics of music, art, and “expression” as electives. It was not until the school moved to Belton in 1886 that the fine arts department became a separate division that awarded art diplomas.

“Just as art was an important cornerstone of a Mary Hardin-Baylor education from the beginning, we are blessed with a thriving visual art department today,” O’Rear said during the ceremony.

The UMHB College of Visual and Performing Arts currently has 88 declared art majors and 58 students with a minor in art.

Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed tours of the two-story, 27,000-square-foot facility, which includes a beautiful art gallery and classrooms designed with specific art mediums such as ceramics, screenprinting, and computer design in mind.

The Baugh Center for the Visual Arts is named in memory of Eula Mae and John Baugh, Houston philanthropists who were steadfast supporters of higher education and Texas Baptist causes. John Baugh was the founder of Sysco Corporation and served as chairman and CEO of the company, which became the world’s largest food distribution service with 170 locations and over 47,500 employees. John’s business acumen was matched by his commitment to numerous charitable causes, and UMHB was just one of the many organizations that benefitted from John and Eula Mae’s generous gifts.

The Baughs established the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation in 1995 to continue their philanthropic efforts beyond their own lifetimes. In 2009, under the direction of their daughter, Barbara Baugh, the foundation stepped forward to make the lead gift for construction of a new visual arts center, and in doing so inspired other donors to support the project.

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