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Donors fund building projects

Feb. 27, 2001

Current construction, future sites cost more than $130 mil


Staff writer

Where is all the money that is being spent on construction coming from?

This is a question that many students have asked this year as more than $50 million in construction is underway and well more than $80 million in future construction plans are unfolding.

Students can rest easy because the money is not coming out of their own pockets -- it's coming out of the pockets of donors.

Most construction that takes place at Baylor is funded solely by donations, said Dr. Richard Scott, vice president for university development.

Five of the main projects that Baylor is undertaking are the $17 million George W. Truett Theological Seminary, the $30 million Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center, the $18 million Harry and Anna Jeanes Discovery Center, the $6 million Tennis Facility and the $5.5 million Stacy Riddle Forum.

All of these buildings are funded by people who have special interests in the individual projects, Scott said.

One of these people is Scott Salmans, president of WRS Group Inc. and a 1987 Baylor graduate in marketing and entrepreneurship. Salmans has donated money recently to the Discovery Center and has chosen to give more than just financial assistance to the university.

'Scott not only gives his money but also his time to Baylor,' Larry Smith, director of gift planning, said.

Salmans has been committed to doing community work and now serves as chairman of the Central Texas Steering Committee, a committee formed to raise money for the Discovery Center.

At this point $14.5 million has been raised from large gifts. The largest is a $5 million commitment made by the Frank W. and Anyse Sue Mayborn Foundation of Temple.

'From my standpoint I am always looking for organizations that will have long-lasting benefits,' Salmans said. '[Baylor's] guiding principles and mission are directly in congruence with mine.'

Salmans said he gives his money and time to Baylor because the university's spiritual beliefs are aligned with his own and because he believes it will be beneficial for generations to come.

Possibly the most famous Baylor donors are Baylor law graduates Walter Umphrey of Beaumont, Harold Nix of Dangerfield and John Eddie Williams of Houston. They have given a collective gift of $20 million to the new law school building, which is the largest gift from individuals in the history of the university.

Umphrey, Nix and Williams make up three of the five-lawyer 'Dream Team' that recovered a $17.6 billion settlement for the people of Texas from the tobacco industry in January 1998 --the largest civil recovery in the history of America.

Fund raising for Truett Seminary began in November 1997 with an anchor gift of $5 million from John and Eula Mae Baugh of Houston.

Stacy Riddle Baumgartner, a 1989 Baylor graduate in journalism and charter director of the Houston-based Riddle Foundation, gave a major gift to the new Panhellenic building, which will now be called the Stacy Riddle Forum.

The University Development department is responsible for the financial aspects of these projects. The department heads up fund raising and is made up of 60 to 65 people who oversee several different aspects of fund raising, which is the necessary first step for any building project.

Twenty people in this department are 'major gift officers,' Scott said. Others are given areas such as the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and Houston to oversee. Ten work in research and eight work in creative services.

Construction efforts are controlled by funding, Ken Simons, business manager, said. New projects are taken on 'depending on how funding comes in.'

'We have to find out who is interested' in the project in order to know how to go about raising the funds, Scott said.

Two people committed to donating money to Baylor are retired Baylor mathematics professors Drs. Jim and Patricia Hickey. Both received their master's degrees in mathematics from Baylor and have donated money to academics as well as athletics at Baylor in several areas.

Dr. Patricia Hickey said that she and her husband 'give out of our love for Baylor.'

Hickey said she believes as a small, private school in the Big 12, Baylor deserves a chance to compete with the facilities and educational programs of the larger schools, and she and her husband want to support 'Baylor's Christian commitment to educating within this atmosphere.'

Fundraising efforts take on many different forms for each of these projects.

'There isn't any single way that money can be raised,' Scott said.

Getting donations varies with the project that needs funds, Scott said. The Student Life Center had more broad-based interest for donors than any other project undertaken at Baylor with around 2,500 donors, Scott said.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Panhellenic building, which receives donations mainly from female sorority alumnae. Close to 1,000 people have supported it so far, Scott said.

The Discovery Center has much more of a community interest because people want a children's museum for the Southwest, Scott said. Southwestern Bell has donated $1.2 million, and AT&T donated $1 million.

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