The "From Riches to Rags" article in a 1994 issue of The Shorthorn describes how Mark Baum gave up a high-paying job at his dad's Houston furniture business to become a college student.
"When I told my father I was coming to UTA, he said, ‘Mark, you're making 70
grand a year. Are you stupid?'" recalls Baum, who proved he wasn't by earning a
bachelor's degree in political science in less than three years.
Since his time at UT Arlington, the 35-year-old entrepreneur has been doing his
best to return to the riches. He is a managing director of BCGU, a San
Diego-based hedge fund manager and advisory business that provides financing
and intellectual capital to small public companies in the United States and
Name an area of business and BCGU is likely involved: nurse staffing,
consumable water and other beverages, solar power, computer software, oil and
gas development and rapid diagnostic testing, to name a few. BCGU recently took
one of the largest broadband Internet providers in China public.
Baum rises at 5 o'clock each morning and is in the office by 6, analyzing his
portfolio, making calls to the east coast and plotting his next moves. His
family taught him that if he wanted success-monetarily or otherwise-he'd have
to earn it. "I've always been interested in working hard, being creative and
trying to be self-sufficient."
After UT Arlington, Baum loaded up a U-Haul and "hit the road, literally
like the Beverly Hillbillies," he said. "I'd never been to California and
didn't know anyone." He graduated from California Western School of Law in San
Diego and practiced law for about nine months-long enough to pay off his school
loans. Then he started an online pharmacy that catered to HIV positive Hispanic
men in California. He grew the business, took it public and, in about a year,
made enough money to finance BCGU.
History Associate Professor Elisabeth Cawthon remembers a student who relished
thinking across disciplines and was a wonderful conversationalist with a
devotion to public service.
"Mark impressed me as someone who was not only book smart, though he had plenty of intellectual gifts," Dr. Cawthon said. "He had a keen idea of how to apply knowledge. It's hard not to recall someone who was so talented and had such a clear vision of civic responsibility."
That vision has come full circle. Last year the Mark L. Baum Scholarship Fund
awarded six scholarships to outstanding liberal arts majors. One of the
recipients was art senior Michelle Proksell. "Now I can concentrate more on
what elaborate projects I'd like to pursue," said the aspiring professional
artist. "I have the means to make art rather than worry about how to pay for
Baum's goal with the scholarship is simple: help as many deserving, talented and motivated students as he can.
"I want to promote goodness and
truth. I believe goodness and truth lie in everyone. My experience in trying to
give back has convinced me that there isn't an investment that I have or will
make in my business career that will be as important as the investments I make
in deserving people. UTA is loaded with brilliant people with wonderful goals
Goals he's helping them reach and stories he's helping them tell.
— Mark Permenter
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