Texas university drops 'Baptist' in rebrand, says it 'welcomes all Christians'

Houston Christian University
Houston Christian University | Courtesy Houston Christian University

A private Christian university in Houston is dropping the word “Baptist” from its name.

Houston Baptist University, which was founded in 1960, has changed its name to Houston Christian University (HCU) to expand its brand of Christian education, university officials announced.

While the university’s official name no longer includes Baptist, the university is not owned or controlled by any denomination, according to its website.

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President Robert B. Sloan announced the change on Sept. 21 during an open forum with faculty, staff, past and present trustees and students.

“Houston Christian University more accurately epitomizes our student body and reflects the faculty, staff, alumni, and community we serve,” Sloan said. “We are committed to being a distinctively Christian university that welcomes all Christians to benefit from our excellent academic programs. This historic university appeals to people all across the spectrum of Christian denominational life, and this new name clarifies who we are.” 

Seeking to “extend the influence of our mission while also appealing to as many students as possible,” Sloan said the renaming is part of a growth campaign to expand HCU’s residential campus to 4,200 students and online campus to 5,800 students.

University officials say the branding and expansion plan is backed by the board of trustees' “prayerful review” and will not use any current tuition or fee revenues to fund the plan.       

Despite the name change, HCU shares a cooperative relationship with the Baptist General Convention of Texas (Texas Baptists). In addition, the university enjoys a fraternal relationship with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

The name change does not affect the university’s accreditation status, tuition or fees, or financial aid application process.

It also has no impact on HCU’s embrace of students of all faiths, a policy that remains unchanged in the 60 years of its existence. Regardless of religious background, all HCU students are still “expected to abide by university guidelines, including attendance at spiritual life events and regular chapel services,” according to its website.

The move marks the second time university leaders have changed the institution’s name. 

Originally launched in 1960 as Houston Baptist College by Stewart Morris Sr., the university was renamed to Houston Baptist University in 1973.

In a statement, Morris voiced his support for the name change: “I believe the name Houston Christian University is perfect. I am especially proud that the word ‘Christian’ will be in the name since it truly represents who we are, a university where everyone is welcome.”

While officials said HCU is “still in the early stages” of the rebranding and expansion effort, campus signage and athletics uniforms are expected to be updated over the next few months.

HCU’s colors of orange and blue will not change, and the university’s Husky mascot will remain a fixture at its Division 1 competitions, officials said.

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