James E. Bertelsmeyer: creating connections

When Missouri S&T classes started this fall, the Miner Alumni Association gained eight new office workers. They file, write thank-you notes to alumni donors, make copies and run errands. At Homecoming, they were busy working – setting up and taking down tables, welcoming alumni and their guests back to campus and performing countless other tasks.

James E. Bertelsmeyer (Photo by Bob Phelan/Photomasters)

When Missouri S&T classes started this fall, the Miner Alumni Association gained eight new office workers. They file, write thank-you notes to alumni donors, make copies and run errands. At Homecoming, they were busy working – setting up and taking down tables, welcoming alumni and their guests back to campus and performing countless other tasks.
But these workers aren’t on the payroll. They’re student volunteers.
Hailing from all over the country, these volunteers share a common trait. They are all recipients of a scholarship endowed by James E. Bertelsmeyer, ChE’66.
In 1998, Bertelsmeyer, retired founder, chair and CEO of Heritage Propane Partners in Tulsa, saw a need to build the membership ranks of the Miner Alumni Association. The best way to accomplish that, he thought, was to develop connections with students before they graduate and demonstrate the importance of staying involved with their alma mater. The process, he thought, would cultivate the next generation of alumni leaders.
To accomplish his task, Bertelsmeyer, a past president of the Miner Alumni Association, established a scholarship to help Missouri S&T students with tuition expenses. He asks all recipients to volunteer in the alumni office, even if it is only a couple of hours a week.

“I feel that giving something in return is important to student development,” Bertelsmeyer says.

“I feel that giving something in return is important to student development.”
Each year the scholarship supports two freshmen, two sophomores, two juniors and two seniors who have all chosen to work in the alumni office. Most Bertelsmeyer scholars also volunteer to join Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow, the association’s student chapter, so they can offer additional assistance to the campus community and the alumni association.
“Without our Bertelsmeyer scholarship students, we couldn’t accomplish all we do,” says Marianne Ward, executive vice president of the Miner Alumni Association. “We have a limited budget and they provide extra hands and healthy perspective. They are wonderful.”
So far, Bertelsmeyer’s plan has worked. At least if you ask the current crop of scholars.
“My time in the alumni office has very much inspired me to be an active alumnus and give back as much time and money as I can,” says Steve Puzach, a senior in civil engineering. “Some members of our fraternity and I have decided to start our own scholarship fund someday. We would also encourage the recipients of that award to volunteer at the alumni office at least as much as we did, because we know what a great experience it is.”

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