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From the College of Natural Sciences
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Natural Sciences Students Create Endowment for Fellow Students

Natural Sciences Students Create Endowment for Fellow Students
nsc logoThe Natural Sciences Council (NSC) will become one of the only student organizations in the history of The University of Texas at Austin to create an endowment to support scholarships for undergraduates.


The NSC, which acts as a liaison between undergraduates in the College of Natural Sciences and its faculty and administration, are setting up the $25,000 endowment primarily from funds earned through the sale of notes for Professor David Laude’s chemistry course.

Laude, also the associate dean for undergraduate education, approached the council two years ago and asked them if they would organize and transcribe the notes he’d accumulated over ten years of teaching his introductory chemistry lecture. In exchange, he’d let the NSC sell the resulting study packet to his students and funnel the profits into scholarships.

“The study packet is a way to emphasize the material I think is important,” says Laude. “I can hit the highlights better than the 1000 page textbooks being sold today. Having the notes available also allows the students to stop writing feverishly during lecture. As I tell them, I’m pretty sure I take better notes on what I’m saying than they can.”

Laude handed his notes over the NSC, and teams of students donated time and labor to transcribe them into a typed, 250-page document that Laude then offered up for sale through the university’s copy center.

Although students weren’t required to buy it, the study guide proved an immediate hit, and for every $25 copy that sold, $10 was donated to the NSC. The money from the study guides, along with other funds raised by the NSC, has added up to roughly $5,000 a semester to support scholarships.

“Everybody wins,” says Laude. “Students get the notes for far less than they'd pay if we were doing this through an outside copy shop. With a class the size of mine, I can dump more than $10,000 a year into the endowment for scholarships. And the NSC, which has a long history of service to students in the College of Natural Sciences, is able to continue doing their good work.”

This semester, the NSC officially donated $17,500 to the college. When the amount reaches $25,000, as it should next year, the fund will officially be upgraded to an endowment. Once that happens, an NSC committee will meet every year to decide how to divvy up the interest that the endowment has earned.

“All of NSC’s money has always gone directly toward scholarships and awards,” says Brennan Lang, the NSC treasurer. “Before we got this money, though, we didn’t have a reliable source of funding. It was whatever we could raise ourselves, and year by year it was iffy. Now, it looks like we’ll have this constant stream of money.”

The kinds of service that will be recognized, say Lang and NSC president Stephanie Hsu, might be anything from starting a new organization on campus to tutoring other students or working as an orientation advisor.

“In the past, we’ve given out awards that recognize academic accomplishment, or take into account need,” says Lang. “With this endowment, we’re only honoring service. It just seems right, because it’s money that students from the college gave directly to us, so we want to give it back to them for helping the college.”

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Thursday, 15 April 2021

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