Groundbreaking Held Feb. 23 for Stacy Riddle Forum
by LoAna Lopez
A new chapter in Greek life on the Baylor campus began Friday, Feb. 23, as groundbreaking ceremonies took place, despite rainy weather conditions, on the long-awaited $5.5 million Panhellenic building project - the Stacy Riddle Forum.
Several hundred officials, supporters and guests gathered in a large heated tent on the Collins Hall parking lot to celebrate the Forum, which will be constructed on the south side of the Baylor campus behind Harrington House on Ninth Street and Baylor Avenue. A reception followed the ceremony in Memorial Drawing Room.
"For many of the women who have been working on this for years, today represents their dream coming true," said Dr. Martha Lou Scott, dean of campus life. "For current students, it's just an exciting time. The Stacy Riddle Forum will be a visibly unifying thing for them. It will be a place where they can finally come together."
Participants in Friday's groundbreaking were Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr.; Stacy Riddle Baumgartner, a 1989 Baylor graduate and a charter director of the Houston-based Riddle Foundation, which contributed a major gift to the project; and Dr. Scott. Other participants included chapter faculty advisers, presidents and delegates; Central Texas alumnae presidents and housing chairs; and other major donors.
Dr. Sloan said that while the Forum will help sororities on campus, the benefits of its construction - such as meeting space needs and beautifying the campus - will be felt campus-wide. "There's a certain domino effect of space that's created," he said. "Because we have this dedicated space, it liberates other areas in a way that will truly help the entire University."
For Baumgartner, providing a central place for sororities to meet and gather is dear to her heart.
"When I was here at Baylor, the best part of my years as a student was my sorority and my friends," said Baumgartner. "Back then we didn't know any different, not really thinking what it would be like to have a great facility like this that would accommodate everybody. I think it's something that's way past due but we're just thankful that it's here."
A Houston native, Baumgartner earned her bachelor's degree in journalism in 1989 and was an active member of Kappa Kappa Gamma while at Baylor. After graduation, Baumgartner began her own business as a certified legal video specialist, videotaping depositions and courtroom presentations. In 1995, she married Greg Baumgartner, a trial attorney who practices law with her brother, Todd, and father, Don, a 1960 Baylor graduate, in the law firm of Riddle & Baumgartner. She and her husband have two sons and are active civic and professional leaders in their Klein/Cy-Fair community in northwest Houston. Both are charter directors of The Riddle Foundation.
The Riddle Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization, based in Houston, dedicated to providing financial aid and assistance to a wide range of causes. Although the Foundation concentrates its philanthropy on providing college scholarships to underprivileged high school graduates, it has given several million dollars to various new construction efforts at Baylor, the largest recipient of foundation contributions. Other major recipients are Rice University, Texas A&M University, Make-A-Wish Foundation and The Ronald McDonald House.
Charitable work is a big part of Baylor's Greek sorority system, which began in 1924 with the chartering of Alpha - as the first local women's social service club. Today, more than 1,600 Baylor female students are involved in National Panhellenic Council sororities and annually give more than 100,000 hours of service and approximately $60,000 to the community while maintaining an overall 3.26 grade point average.
Providing a common ground for sororities makes the Forum an important addition to the campus, said Donell Teaff, Baylor Regent and honorary chair of the panhellenic building steering committee.
"For 20-plus years now, we have been hoping to have a place where the panhellenic groups can come together," Teaff said. "I think that with them being together, the groups will become a real force and make for a more effective panhellenic group."
The two-story, 51,000-square-foot building will contain nine sorority suites/meeting rooms, a computer lab available to all students, a chapel and prayer room, a Panhellenic office and an apartment for a resident manager. The Forum is designed to be expanded to accommodate additional sororities.
Sororities that will have suites in the initial building phase are: Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Delta Pi, Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Delta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Pi Beta Phi and Zeta Tau Alpha.
The location of the building, on the south side of campus near Interstate 35, will allow greater accessibility to sorority members who live in residence halls along Eighth Street and to alumnae who continue their participation in chapter activities.
Construction of this building also benefits the entire university by resolving meeting space issues in other campus buildings and residence halls.
For more information about the building project, contact Cathy Pleitz in University Development at (254) 710-2561 or Cathy_Pleitz@baylor.edu.