How Firm A Foundation

August 24, 2004

For information about anniversary activities, visit An exhibit in the Harry and Anna Jeanes Discovery Center on display through May inclues historical photos and memorabilia.

In spring 1968, junior Andy Dement received a written request from Baylor President Abner McCall. 
"In those days, when you got a letter from Judge McCall ... you didn't ask any questions," says Dement, BS '71, who was one of 13 steering committee members selected by the administration to begin a new organization called Student Foundation. "All we knew was that we were going to be a service organization to promote students helping students." 
Dement became president of the fledgling organization, modeled after a student group at another university. Borrowing one of that group's traditions, Baylor Student Foundation members organized a bicycle race, called Bear Downs, to raise scholarship monies for students. "We didn't have any bikes, we didn't have any money, we didn't have a place to race," he says. 
From these modest beginnings, Student Foundation -- whose members began wearing the distinctive green-and-white striped shirts in the mid-1980s -- has grown into one of the campus' most recognizable student organizations. This fall, it celebrates its 35th anniversary, years that have yielded more than 2,400 members and more than $3.2 million in scholarship funds for 4,776 students, says Jennifer Terrell, director of the organization since July 2003. 
"Over the years, it's really been able to make an impact on a lot of people," says Terrell, BA '02, who was a member of the organization her junior and senior years. "It's the 'foundation,' forgive the pun, that everyone has laid ... that's made Student Foundation what it is today." 
The application process for membership in the service organization must be repeated annually, she says. Typically, more than 200 applicants vie for the 100 available spots, which are divided evenly among seniors, juniors and by gender. Each member serves on one of three committees -- student recruitment, campus promotions or financial affairs. Current foundation members are not eligible to receive scholarships, she says. 
For the 2004-05 school year, 200 students will each receive a $1,000 scholarship from Student Foundation. To celebrate the organization's anniversary year, Terrell hopes to set a record in fundraising for foundation scholarships and the University's endowment, to which the group has contributed nearly $1.5 million.
"Endowment plays a pivotal role in achieving our scholarship goals every year. Our hope is to increase it by at least $500,000 during this next year," she says. 
Student Foundation is a component of University Development, in what Terrell describes as a "very reciprocal relationship." Students have the opportunity to participate in activities, such as recruiting and raising scholarship funds, that typically are reserved for University employees, and Baylor benefits from the help and enthusiasm of students who love their school, she says. "I'm very grateful for the University believing in its young people this way." 
Last year's Student Foundation co-president Brad Hickman, who hopes to complete a master's of accountancy in May, says he's confident his involvement in the organization will impact him beyond graduation. 
"I had a lot of school pride, but this has taken it to a new level. I think it's created a desire to become more intimately involved and make sure I do ... whatever I can to help out the University," Hickman says. 
The association between the University and the students has served Baylor well, says the foundation's first president Dement, who has been working for his alma mater in the Houston Development office since 2001. He says he considers the organization Baylor's "best product" when it comes to representing today's student body to alumni and potential donors. "They want to see the students, and you're generally showing them the best of the best," he says. 
In 1995, after working overseas for several years, Dement returned to campus and asked about the green and white shirts he saw students wearing. When he found out they were Student Foundation members, he marveled at how large the organization had become. "My first thought was, 'I'm glad we didn't kill it,'" he laughs. "I think I'm prouder of it now than I was then."