In 1986, a group of Florida State University students partnered with the Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Bobby E. Leach, in an effort to raise money to furnish the newly renovated Oglesby Student Union. Their initial efforts raised more than $180,000. These gifts gave Dr. Leach the ability to furnish the expanded and renovated Student Union. Those student and alumni leaders that lead this effort were named The Seminole Torchbearers.
Unique among collegiate groups in the nation, the Seminole Torchbearers enable past and present leaders to maintain their connection with their alma mater in a meaningful way. Seminole Torchbearers help the University create a nurturing and supportive campus climate -- one that enhances the students’ total educational experience.
Under the leadership of Vice Presidents, Dr. Bob Kimmel and Dr. Bobby Leach, the Torchbearers grew to become an organization with more than 4,000 members. Randy Drew, Student Body President (1979-80), and Marketing Department Chair, Melvin Stith, served as the initial co-chairmen bringing the Union project to fruition.
Once the Union renovation was completed, former student leaders saw a need for maintaining their connection with each other because they recognized the personal , professional and University benefits that could come from such an association. Dr. Jon Dalton, Vice President for Student Affairs in 1990, continued to lead the Torchbearers as it undertook a project to furnish and decorate the new Bobby E. Leach Student Recreation Center. Soon after, Matt Maynor was elected to serve as chair working with Jo Messer and later Roger Jamieyfield who both provided University leadership.
In 1993, former Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Bob Brandewie, created the first Torchbearers endowment with the Friends of Student Affairs and Brandewie Senate Awards programs. Maynor and Kimmel continued to recruit many former student leaders to get involved and were largely responsible for establishing the Apollo Visko Leadership Award and Milton S. Carothers Ethical Courage Award. Fred Maglione began working on Torchbearers and Student Affairs development projects in 1995, the same year the Leadership Legacy Endowment program began. The Leadership Legacy program recognizes all individual and group endowments to the Division of Student Affairs of $25,000 or more.
Tedy Parker King, class of 1945, was elected chair in 1996. Health problems forced Tedy to resign from this leadership post within the year. Deborah Pistana Bennett, Student Body Vice President (1974-75) immediately stepped into the leadership helm.
In 1997, the Torchbearers worked with the "Flying High" Circus Alumni Association to raise more than $100,000 for the Circus’ Golden Anniversary Campaign. All former Student Body and Senior Class Presidents were invited to participate in the University’s “Ten Days of Gold’’ opening ceremonies commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the legislative act making the Florida State College for Women the co-educational Florida State University.
The Seminole Torchbearers now hold reunions of former student leaders each fall. Each fall, juniors, seniors, and professional (graduate, law, medical) students are inducted into the organization at the Induction & Leadership Recognition Ceremony, and Torchbearers continue to raise funds to support student life projects and enhance the quality of student life.