More Than Stripes: Student Foundation Celebrates Golden Anniversary

by Olivia Bragg | October 16, 2019

Baylor didn’t need 400,000 roaring fans. It just needed 13 students.

A few things happened in 1969. Apollo 11 sent Neil Armstrong to the moon. Almost half a million concert groupies sang their hearts out at Woodstock in New York. And more relevantly, Kent State University students rioted the Vietnam War, resulting in unrest on college campuses.

But, as if there wasn’t enough going on, Bob Longshore had an idea in Waco, Texas.

Like all good ideas, he shared it with his friends – Bill Harlan (B.B.A. ’55) and Tom Parrish. Eventually, the idea was supported and blessed by former president Abner McCall.

The idea was simple: to charter an organization of students serving students. To these three founders, it was a copped idea from a similar organization at Indiana University as a way for students to serve their university. To us, it’s Student Foundation, or “StuFu” if you hear it on campus.

“We cannot express too strongly the importance of the Student Foundation to the future progress of Baylor,” McCall said after StuFu’s founding.

If you do the math (subtract 1969 from 2019, carry the one), that’s 50 years. Which makes this year StuFu’s golden anniversary.

And what better way to celebrate than renting out the swanky Baylor Club to throw a reunion party with 250 of their closest friends. This milestone called for a call to StuFu alumni, scholarship recipients and current members.

And no, not everyone wore stripes.

“Baylor University is an amazing place and has seen a lot in its nearly 175-year history,” Troy and Betty Mays director Jordan Hannah said. “Student Foundation has always sought to support the advancement of our university and to do so in service of our students. And that hasn’t changed since 1969. If Baylor calls, we answer. Whether we call ourselves ‘Student Foundation’ or ‘Foundation’ or ‘StuFu,’ our shared purpose remains steadfast.”

On Sept. 27, this golden anniversary dinner featured prominent StuFu leaders telling stories of the history and impact of this iconic organization, and round tables for guests to engage with each other.

“This emphasized the significance of this organization,” Baylor President Linda Livingstone said in her speech. “Bringing people back.”

Current StuFu members served throughout the room as greeters, engaging alumni – from the seasoned 1970s grads all the way to the fresh mid-2010s ones.

“I like the past, present and future part of it,” junior member Chantal Canales said. “I like how it’s not just current Baylor students but alumni who made its history.”

But this organization is more than green and white rugby jerseys (which didn’t enter the picture until about the 80s). StuFu is about students serving students.

Opening his remarks with a Kahoot! game of StuFu trivia, keynote speaker Blair Browning said love is acts of service.

“Servant leadership is not normal,” Browning said. “You’re going to have to re-train your minds from what the world’s been telling you for 18, 20 years. To say, ‘Actually it’s not about me. It’s about serving others.’”

All in all, StuFu leadership wants Baylor students and alumni to know through their 50th anniversary celebration that StuFu is more than the stripes. It’s about giving back.

Which, if you do the numbers, StuFu gives more than what you can count on two hands.

“I joined Student Foundation because I saw that they were not only an energetic and inclusive group, but a group passionate about serving Baylor’s campus,” Gracie Danciu, junior member and previous Bearathon runner, said. “They really make things happen!”

Just on the surface, StuFu hosts the Bearathon – 2,000 runners.

They put on The All-University Thanksgiving Dinner & Fall Festival – 9,000 guests.

They assistwith recruitment events – 65 of them, including 40 college fairs.

And, most famously, they award scholarships – totaling $6 million to nearly 7,000 students.

“I always feel like I received so much more than I gave as part of Student Foundation,” Susan Russell Ligon, chair of Student Foundation Leadership Council, said in her speech. “You earned your stripes and you’re making a difference.”

The three founders had no idea 13 students would grow to 100. Or that the uniform would change in the 80s. Or that the Bear Downs bicycle race would morph into the Toughest Half in Texas marathon. Or that StuFu would get its own building space in 2006 instead of hopping between available campus offices.

But they probably could’ve guessed that even 50 years later, the integrity of StuFu would remain the same. They’re still serving, still leading and still earning their stripes.

“Really the spirit of service that helped get Student Foundation started back in 1969 is really still there and never really left,” Hannah said.

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