Editor’s note: The story here is part of a series of 40 stories commemorating USF Sarasota-Manatee’s 40th anniversary this academic year. For more about USFSM’s history, please visit usfsm.edu/anniversary.
All it took was an invitation from an old college friend to help USF’s alumni association.
That was 30 years ago and Charles Baumann has been saying ‘yes’ ever since – which is fortunate for USF Sarasota-Manatee, the chief beneficiary of Baumann’s talent and philanthropic spirit.
Since then, the now-retired Class of ’71 USF alumnus has helped shape USFSM in numerous ways. Among them, by organizing Brunch on the Bay, serving on the USFSM Community Leadership Council and making generous financial contributions.
“We’re only involved in things we care about,” Baumann said, referring also to his wife, Linda. “If you get involved in something or volunteer for something, volunteer for something you care about.”
Baumann’s involvement dates to the mid-1980s when longtime USF booster Roger Frazee suggested he help his alma mater.
Baumann, who had returned to the area after 13 years at the IRS, was working as an accountant at Sarasota-based Kerkering, Barberio & Co. He agreed to help and soon was introduced to the dean at USF Sarasota-Manatee, Dr. David Schenck.
Dean Schenck asked him to join a council comprised of local business leaders. Back then, the USF regional campus was housed at New College of Florida and was barely known off campus. The council, an advisory board to the dean, wanted to elevate USFSM’s standing and suggested a social event to bring people to campus and raise money for scholarships. The result: Brunch on the Bay.
“We wanted it to be different, not a fundraiser dinner-type thing,” said Baumann, who chaired the first Brunch organizing committee along with numerous other committees since then. “Back then, this was not about raising money but about raising friends.”
The event, now a mainstay on the Sarasota-Manatee social calendar, is just one example of how Baumann answered the call to help. Years later, he and Linda would answer that call again – including in a big way in the mid-2000s.
Then-CEO Dr. Laurey Stryker was overseeing USFSM’s move to a new campus north of New College when she turned to the Baumanns for help outfitting the empty building. The Baumanns responded generously and in a personal way with a $50,000 donation.
“We weren’t born into wealth but we looked into what we could afford and we found we could do it,” he said. “We both believe in giving back to the community.”
Looking back, he said he cherishes those times he and Linda could help, but said he’s prouder of how the campus has responded to the community than any support he may have provided.
“I’m proud of how the university went out into the community to find out what was needed to supply its needs and then responded by teaching our kids and giving our kids an education that is marketable, so they can come out and go back into the community and get a good job,” he said.