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4-day event designed for skill building

Sept. 25, 2003

By Darrell A. Rodriguez, reporter

Baylor student government will hold the Big 12 Student Leadership Conference today through Sunday.

'We want it to be the greatest conference in the nation,' said Brandon Anderson, a Euless junior and co-director of the conference.

Student body presidents and other student government leaders from several of the Big 12 schools will act as delegates at the meeting.

'It will give us an opportunity to showcase Baylor,' said Casey Watts, an Anson junior and student body external vice president. Watts is in charge of programming for the event.

Conference planner Tara Harris, a Clovis, N.M., sophomore, said she thinks that even though Baylor has been through some tough times, it is a place with great leadership.

Harris said the purpose of the event is to help campus leaders learn more effective ways to serve their constituents.

Watts was concerned about how student leaders from other Big 12 schools would view Baylor in light of recent controversies with the athletic program and administration.

'It's important to make a big presentation on their behalf,' Watts said.

Delegates attending the conference will have the opportunity to take the StrengthsFinder Assessment. The test is designed to identify a person's five greatest areas of talent. Many Baylor students already are familiar with the assessment, including the freshman class, which took it this year.

'We thought it would be good to offer the StrengthsFinder test to [show] them something unique about Baylor,' Watts said.

Gallup also will donate $1,500 in books for the conference, and a Gallup representative will speak at the conference, Watts said.

USA Today foreign correspondent Jack Kelley, and senior associate commissioner/chief operating officer of the Big 12 Dan Beebe, will be among the speakers of the event.

'He is a phenomenal speaker,' Watts said. 'He ties everything together really well.'

Last year's conference was held at Texas Tech University, where Baylor won the bid to host this year's conference, Harris said. Baylor also held the first Big 12 Student Leadership Conference, according to officials from Dean of Student Life Dub Oliver's office. The conference has been held at many different Big 12 colleges since that time.

Courtney Sims, a Conroe junior, and Anderson made the bid presentation for Baylor at Texas Tech last year.

Anderson said they passed a lot of freebies.

'We showed the 2012 video in our presentation,' Anderson said. 'We made T-shirts, and we got a donation from Dr Pepper.'

Baylor competed with the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Kansas, but UT dropped out before the vote. The bid for holding the conference passed by a majority with each school represented allowed to cast only one vote.

Harris said that Anderson and Sims worked hard on the presentation last year and 'blew the other groups out of the water.'