Heritage chapel is a time of remembering.
George Santayana, the philosopher and historian, is perhaps most remembered for his statement: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” He also believed in the importance of history. He once observed: “A country without a memory is a country of madmen.”
I agree with Santayana: it is important to remember our history. Ideally, you see, history can help us to reflect and to learn and to grow in the arena of human relationships and progress.
Wayland Baptist University’s alma mater, written by Guy Woods, has as its concluding line “Pioneering Wayland, hail thy blue and gold!”. The fact that Wayland has been a “pioneering” institution of higher learning is true for a wide variety of significant reasons—not just because of our mascot (pioneer Pete). Let me share just a few historical examples with you of why this is true—why Wayland is, indeed, pioneering.
Dr. Bill Marshall became president of Wayland in 1947. Dr. Marshall did many good things for the university. In terms of student recruitment, he brought a decidedly international flavor to the school.
Perhaps his most notable achievement was accomplished in 1951. As Dr. Estelle Owens notes in her article on Dr. Marshall in the Summer/Fall 2003 edition of “Baptist History and Heritage,” Dr. Marshall’s awareness of and opposition to racism began early. When he was eight years old, he witnessed a cousin striking one of his African-American playmates during a game. That event made an indelible impression upon Bill, and it made racism obnoxious to him. As a teenage boy, Marshall worked at various odd jobs: selling newspapers, working on the family farm, becoming a soda jerk at the local drugstore. All during his young life, Bill maintained his friendships and relationships with minorities, Native Americans and African-Americans. To Dr. Marshall, all people were the same—made in the image of god.
In 1951, an African-American teacher from one of our surrounding communities made application to attend Wayland so that she could enhance her teaching credentials and retain her position. Dr. Marshall brought her request to the Board of Trustees. Largely because of the president’s quiet yet strong leadership, the board voted not only to approve her request, but also to allow any other sincere students, regardless of race, to enroll at Wayland. This meant that Wayland Baptist University was the first school in the states of the former Confederate South to voluntarily integrate. These decisions were made at Wayland some 13 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed educational discrimination.
Marshall and Wayland received extensive publicity for the decision. Ebony and Time magazines published articles on the school’s action. We have in our archives 90 pieces of correspondence Dr. Marshall received in response to the school’s new policy. Eighty of the notes praised Wayland, the board, and Dr. Marshall for their courage. Ten were critical. Many of those negative letters passionately vilified both the president and the school for the action and several were, incidentally, unsigned. As Dr. Owens observed in her excellent article of 2003, it is interesting to note that one of the ideals advocated in the 1950-51 academic catalog for Wayland was “Maximum Christianity, Applied as well as Advocated.” In that moment of Wayland’s history, this university was true to that ideal.
Permit me to share another example of “Pioneering Wayland” with you.
From the earliest days of her history, Wayland has emphasized and embraced the right of women to participate in athletics. Eventually, this moved beyond an effort to encourage the ladies of the university to be part of the intramural recreational program of the school. Wayland came to believe and recognize the fact that women should be able to compete, as men do, for national athletic awards, achievements, and recognitions.
Dr. Estelle Owens, University Historian, tells me that the earliest mention of women’s basketball she has been able to find was in the Hale County Herald edition of October 14, 1913. “Wayland college girls won from Floydada by a score of 23 to ___ at basketball.” The paper of November 10, 1914, reported that “The Wayland college boys and girls are playing basketball now in practice games.”
We have pictures of women’s basketball teams in 1916 and 1922 but no particular details about their schedule or competition.
The turning point for women’s athletics and, particularly, women’s basketball, came when Harley Redin was employed as the athletic director and men’s basketball coach of the school in 1945. The next year, coach Redin became the “tutor” of the women’s program.
In 1947-48, the Harvest Queen Mill sponsored the women’s basketball program, giving rise to the name Wayland Harvest Queens. At that time, Sam Allen was the coach and the team finished 6-0. The next season, Allen led the team to the AAU national tournament, where they lost in overtime in the second game. In 1950, however, the queens made a return trip to the national tournament, this time finishing in second place.
In 1951, the Harvest Queens changed their name to the Hutcherson Flying Queens after Claude and Wilda Hutcherson’s Flying Service became their sponsor. Claude was a 1926 Wayland graduate. The move helped put Wayland on the national map because the Flying Queens traveled around the country and internationally in Hutcherson’s fleet of Beechcraft Bonanza airplanes. The Flying Queens became the premier women’s basketball program in the nation for decades.
In 1953, the Flying Queens began a winning streak of 131 games, a record that will, I predict, never be equaled by a female collegiate basketball team.
In 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957 (four years in a row) the team won the AAU National Championship. The members of that team will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on June 8th of this year in Knoxville, Tennessee. They are being honored as “Trailblazers of the Game,” and join the distinguished company of only three other women’s teams: the “All American Red Heads,” the “Edmonton Grads,” and the “Former Helms/Citizens Savings/Founders Bank” team.
Harley redin began coaching the women’s team in 1955. During his career, Redin also became a catalytic force in changing the women’s game from a 12 person half court experience to a full court 5 on 5 contest—just like the men’s game has always been.
As the parents of two daughters who played basketball in high school, Duanea and I are grateful for the trailblazing Flying Queens who have helped to affirm and develop the importance of women’s collegiate athletics.
Just two more brief illustrations of Wayland innovation:
Wayland was a pioneer of external and military education. For example, in 1918, at the end of the First World War, Wayland opened her doors to military students to teach them both general education courses and “military science,” a euphemism for drill exercises. In 1945, Wayland was one of the first institutions to offer education to World War II veterans. In 1948 Wayland began a language school in Mexico, one of the very first collegiate external education efforts. In the early 1970’s, teaching centers were opened in Lubbock and Wichita Falls for law enforcement officers and their training. The university began teaching at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls in 1974, marking Wayland’s first teaching center on a military base of the United States armed forces. Now, Wayland teaches in 14 locations around the word. About 40% of our external campus enrollment of well over 4,000 students is active servicemen and servicewomen. Our external education program even extends to the nation of Kenya in eastern Africa. We truly have gone into the whole world with the light of the Gospel and the discovered truth of our world, as our university seal challenges us.
Early on, Wayland came to believe that taking education to where people in need of that education are would become the wave of the future. God has blessed that effort in a special way.
One last example:
Around 1985, Wayland began a remedial educational program called “Academic Achievement.” We were one of the very first institutions of higher learning to initiate such a program.
Ac-Ac is designed to help students who need to sharpen their skills in study habits and practice, reading comprehension, writing, spelling, mathematics, English proficiency and academic and/or personal confidence. For students who dream of a college education and yet lack some experience in one or more of these areas, Ac-Ac has been and continues to be a great gift and blessing. It has enabled a significant number of individuals to fulfill their educational goals and to become fully qualified and academically proficient students and graduates. The program was birthed for a simple reason: Wayland is more interested in helping students succeed than watching them fail.
Incidentally, remedial education is now a legal requirement of every state university in Texas.
You are part of a very special family—a creative, nimble and synergistic university undergirded and strengthened by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. A school that believes that the reason it exists are two in number: our students and our Savior.
You are part of school which has historically and repeatedly been courageous and committed. You are part of pioneering Wayland.
Have a great semester.
Now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you each and every one throughout the remaining days of this school year.