By Taylor Rexrode
Since September 2010, the President’s Scholarship Initiative has accumulated more than $100 million toward student scholarships, surpassing a goal set for the end of this year.
At Tuesday’s Dr Pepper Hour in the Bill Daniel Student Center, President Ken Starr announced that his goal of raising $100 million toward scholarships by December 31, 2013, had not only been met sooner than expected, but had been surpassed.
As of last Friday, the amount of money raised in the initiative is $101.4 million. Money will continue to be raised for scholarships through the university development office.
Starr thanked students, faculty and staff who attended the announcement for their contributions, and he expressed his gratitude toward the rest of Baylor Nation, which includes approximately 165,000 alumni. More than 11,000 people donated to the fund, 5,000 of which were first-time donors.
Starr spoke about the reason for starting the donation project and how students have always been the most important part of the university.
“If not for the students, we wouldn’t be here,” Starr said. “If we were a faculty simply gathered together studying, we would be a monastery or a think tank. The campus was meant to be enlivened by your spirit, by your extraordinary stories.”
In the past three years, $60 million has been added in financial aid funds for students, increasing scholarships by 45 percent.
Baylor students, faculty, staff, alumni and fans had contributed $24 million by April 2011 and more than $52 million by September 2012 for the initiative.
For Richard Willis, Board of Regents chairman, this initiative allowed Baylor Nation to be involved in the success of students and the university.
“Scholarships are something that everybody can be a part of, every alumni, everyone in the church,” Willis said. “Baylor is important because not only is academic excellence here but we really hope students leave here with a heart for service.”
Exiting student body president Kelly Rapp said the initiative “reinvigorated” the Baylor community, including students, to help future students afford the university experience.
“Even we, the students, along with the rest of Baylor Nation, are rising up to help,” Rapp said. “I’m absolutely confident that the leaders of Baylor University are chiefly focused on providing the greatest experience possible for students. They believe in students and they believe that students are the cornerstone of tradition.”
More than 80 percent of Baylor students receive financial aid and, with rises in tuition every year, many students require more financial assistance to meet the cost of attendance.
Houston freshman Emily Harvin said that she is glad students have more opportunities to attend Baylor with the initiative.
“I think it’s awesome that it allows kids that maybe wouldn’t be able to afford Baylor to get a great education,” Harvin said.
The initiative will provide university scholarships for need-based students and study abroad and missions scholarships.
Two endowed scholarships will be created: one for student athletes and another for student leaders called the Leadership Scholarship. This leadership scholarship will provide recipients with financial aid related to tuition, room and board and study abroad trips.