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George Baughman

George Baughman

George Baughman: A Profile in Philanthropy

“I was only a few months old at my first Western Illinois University homecoming, and I have not missed one since, except during World War II,” declares George Baughman. “I was always fascinated by Western and by homecoming; it was all I thought about since third grade.”

Born and raised in Fulton County, Illinois, George grew up with “Macomb as my Chicago.” Visiting Macomb meant visiting Western, and Western has been a part of George’s life for as far back as he can remember. “Most of my school teachers went to Western, as did my neighbors and friends.  I never considered going anywhere else.”

George started visiting Western as a child on school field trips in the 1940’s. He remembers Hanson Field located by the Morgan gym, Seal Hall as the men’s dormitory with Grote Hall for the ladies, and the beauty of Lake Ruth. Of course, when he graduated from high school, he came to Western for his own college education. Earning a bachelor of science degree in 1960, and a master of science degree in 1967, George went on to teach business education and computer science at Lewistown (Illinois) high school for 33 years. He also taught accounting and computer science courses at Spoon River College in the evenings, and took additional coursework at Western and John Wood Community College along the way.

“Some of my greatest moments have been when LHS graduates have contacted me merely to show their respect. Probably my greatest accomplishment has been that a large percentage of LHS graduates have eventually followed me in some area or pursuit.”

While a student at Western, George was very active in the Gamma Kappa chapter of Delta Sigma Phi, serving as the treasurer for three of his four undergraduate years. He has remained involved in the fraternity throughout the years, serving on the alumni corporation board, various committees, and acting as advisor even to the present. His most noble involvement is a $300,000 planned gift to fund the George O. Baughman scholarship. When realized, the scholarship will support a Fulton County high school graduate attending Western active in Delta Sigma Phi or Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority. George sums up the philosophy of the fraternity in his day very simply: “We believed in accepting pledges we would take home with us for the weekend.” It was this philosophy that allowed a farm boy from Fulton County to be invited to the metropolitan areas of the state and begin to experience a culture different that that on the farm.

George’s generosity, however, is not limited to his beloved fraternity. He also has committed planned gifts $100,000 to the College of Business and Technology, $50,000 to the Leslie F. Maplass Library, and $50,000 to Alumni Programs.

“I really enjoy helping students achieve their educational goals, and I believe the fraternity is such a big part of the educational and social experience. My degrees, of course, are from the College of Business and Technology. I have always loved and always been fascinated by the library, and I served on the Alumni Council for six years. I found it impossible to limit my giving to just one area.”

In his “retirement,” George pursues his passion for antique cars and travel. In addition to collecting cars, he travels throughout the United States participating in and judging antique car shows. He has been a fixture in the WIU homecoming parade, driving dignitaries one of his convertibles for the 37 years of parades! He has traveled to 48 states and 19 countries, and attends numerous WIU events both on-campus and around the state. In his spare time, he owns and manages a farm as well as serves on numerous local and state boards.

“George is very generous with his time and resources,” says WIU President Al Goldfarb. “Western is honored to be the recipient of his gifts which will benefit many future Western students.”

For George, it is simple: “Western is home to me. I still have fun at Western, and I am fortunate enough to be able to give back some of what was given to me.”