University News

Beu Jeans for Scholarships

March 19, 2014

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MACOMB, IL -- If you have the opportunity for a Friday visit to Western Illinois University's Beu Health Center, you may notice that many of the employees, including the doctors, are dressed in blue jeans. For many organizations, this would signify nothing more than "Casual Friday." Not so at Beu, where Fridays are Beu Jeans for Scholarships days.

On Fridays at Beu, employees can make a tax-deductible contribution of $5 (or more) to the Beu Health Center Scholarship Fund in exchange for the privilege of wearing jeans to work.

"It's about the scholarship, not just the jeans," said Beu Health Center Director Mary Margaret Harris. "As a staff, we were looking for a fundraiser or a service project to endorse. Helping students really resonates with all of us, and blue jeans are the bonus."

The concept of Beu Jeans for Scholarships first materialized during a staff retreat last August. In October 2013, an employee requested a jeans day during Homecoming Week, and perhaps that employees would contribute something for the privilege. Harris polled the staff to see if wearing jeans to benefit a scholarship fund was of interest; the participation rate has made it possible to establish the Beu Health Center Scholarship Fund.

"Fifteen Beu employees are first-time donors. That's nearly 33 percent of all the employees at Beu. It's quite impressive that so many people have stepped up to help students, and it's proof that if a number of people put their $5 bills together, pretty soon you have a significant amount that can truly impact a student. I thank each and every Beu employee participating in Beu Jeans for Scholarships, for his or her generosity and for their creativity,"said Vice President for Advancement and Public Services Brad Bainter.

"We enjoy wearing our jeans on Fridays, and we all really like the idea that it is for the benefit of students," said Business Manager Walt McGrath.

"Jeans are more than denim fabric," continued Harris. "They are iconic in our society. Beu Jeans for Scholarships is a way to acknowledge that our staff likes to wear jeans, and it's a way to build community by doing something positive for students."

Posted By: Julie Murphy, WIU Foundation (
Office of University Relations