Texas Baptist College Considering Name Change

A University founded by the Baptist General Convention of Texas is considering a change in name in order to be more appealing to prospective students.

Houston Baptist University, founded about 50 years ago, has been mulling over a name change that would make the academic institution seem, in the words of one board member, less "limiting."

"Houston and the name Baptist are somewhat limiting to a national Christian university," said HBU board member Ray Cox Jr. at a town hall meeting.

Cox claimed that changing the university's name "would break down those barriers, let down those barriers to see who we have been, who we are and who we will continue to be."

However many people, including HBU alumni, disagree with changing the name. In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, HBU Alumnus James Kingsmill said that he does not want to change the school's name.

"If they get rid of the name Baptist, the school will lose its heritage and its identity…The university name needs to have something tied to the faith," said Kingsmill.

The debate over HBU's consideration of a name change bears a comparison to another Baptist institution's thoughts of changing its name.

On multiple occasions, the Southern Baptist Convention has had prominent members call for a new name for the religious organization. As with HBU, many have argued that the name "Southern Baptist" does not reflect the broad community of Baptists in the SBC, which includes congregations outside of the American South.

A 16-member task force was created by SBC President Bryant Wright, which decided in February that the "Southern Baptist" title would remain while an informal optional title of "Great Commission Baptist" could be used by SBC member churches.

"I'm in complete agreement with the position they have taken," said Wright in an earlier interview with The Christian Post.

"They could be used together, or a church or entity could decide to use 'Great Commission Baptists' by itself or together with 'Southern Baptist Convention' or use 'Southern Baptist Convention' by itself."

Houston Baptist University underwent a less controversial name change in 1973, as it was formerly titled "Houston Baptist College."

Although no alternative name has been officially proposed, one name being circulated around is "Morris Christian University" after Stewart Morris, a founder of HBU and major donor.

Neither Houston Baptist University nor the Baptist General Convention of Texas returned requests for comments by press time.