Baird, whose Korean name is Bae Wie-ryang, was born on June 16, 1862 in Indiana, USA. He graduated from Hanover University in 1885 and MaCormick Theological Seminary in 1888. Also, he received a Doctorate degree of Philosophy in 1903 and a Doctor degree of Divinity in 1913 from Hanover University.
He married Annie Adams on December 18, 1890, and arrived in Incheon on February 1, 1891 with her. They started to evangelize in Busan in September that year. He moved to Daegu and established Daegu Jeil Church and Gyeseong village school. He moved to Seoul in 1896 and took charge of education in Kyungshin village school. He established SSU in Pyeongyang on October 10, 1897 and took office as president. They combined with the Methodist Church and developed SSU. He passed away in Pyeongyang on November 29, 1931 from typhoid fever.
Soongsil University celebrated its 100th anniversary on October 10, 1997. Since its foundation one hundred years ago, when Soongsil began to offer a higher education in Korea, it has provided many Koreans a modern education under the founding philosophy of the pursuit of the truth and service.
The school was founded at the end of Joseon Dynasty, when the nation was still dominated by old-fashioned ideas and closed minds. Soongsil, against such social climate, started to teach western ideas and knowledge, leading the nation to the path of modernization. Besides academic teaching, the school was aggressively engaged in cultural and Christian mission - spreading Gospel, teaching music, sports, and other cultural activities.
With the colonization of Korea by Japan in 1910, Soongsil started to lead a national movement for independence against the colonial government: among the important independence movements that Soongsil led were the Movement by 105 Activists, the incident involving the National Congress of People, 3.1 Indepence Movement, Kwangju Students' Movement, etc. All this active involvement in independence movements eventually led to the tragic shutdown of the school in 1938.
Since Korea was liberated from Japan in 1945, Soongsil has been dedicated to the timely and urgent task of fostering talented youths who are fortified with Christian principles.
While Soongsil was struggling to solidify its foundation and expand its programs, the colonial government of Japan was strengthening its hold on the Korean penninsula, depriving Korean people of even their basic human rights. In an attempt to make Korean people conform to their ways, the colonial government forced all Koreans to visit and worship at Japanese shrines.
Forced worship of Japanese shrines was a cruel demand to Korean people, especially to those who were Christians. Refusing to follow the colonial government's order and compromise its principles, Soongsil made a courageous and difficult decision to have the school shutdown on March 4, 1938 right after a graduation ceremony and after 39 years of offering a college education.
The long-cherished national dream of liberation came true on August 15, 1945, and Soongsil's family attempted to reopen the school. Unfortunately, the breakout of Korean War in 1950 forced them to flee to the south, and they had to wait until after the war to rebuild Soongsil in Seoul. In December, 1953, a meeting was held in Yongnak Church to organize the Soongsil Rebuilding Committee and form the board of directors. An application for a charter was submitted to the Ministry of Education soon afterwards.
On April 15, 1954 the committee recevied a charter to establish Soongsil in Seoul.