Displayed atop a University Co-op shelf is a pair of burnt orange and white cowboy boots complete with an official University seal and a signature Longhorn emblem.
UT’s official cowboy boots, ticketed at $349.99 and made of ostrich-leather, were designed by former members of Student Government and have been sold in the Co-op since 2007 to raise money for student scholarships, student body President Natalie Butler said. Butler said the Student Government board reads through scholarship applications in April of each year and chooses students based on both need and merit. The exact amount given to each student varies from year to year, she said.
“We wanted to have a pair of University of Texas student boots,” she said. “But the intention from the beginning was [funding] student scholarships.” Butler received hers as a Christmas gift and said the process of designing the boots and working with the manufacturers to create them provided a unique way to award scholarships and sport one-of-a-kind boots.
“There are lots of other companies that make boots, but there aren’t many with a unique custom design that are totally student-focused,” she said. “I’m pretty sure we’re unique in that sense.”
Hulan Swain, director of licensing and imports at the Co-op, said while several different UT-branded products were discussed in order to fund scholarships, the boots were the most obvious choice.
“I think the success of the product was in the quality and also because they were the first licensed UT boots,” she said. “It took a long time to finalize the manufacturing and licensing process, but it has been a really good program.”
At last count, the boots had raised close to $200,000 for student scholarships, she said. About 500 pairs have been sold each year, with slight fluctuations. Sales were higher in 2009 as the University rested on the brink of a national football championship, with roughly even sales between males and females.
The price has not changed since the boots were first put on the market, Swain said, and although costs of manufacturing are rising, the Co-op intends to keep the boots on the shelves.
“As long as there’s demand and as long as student government wants to continue with the program, we will do it,” she said.
Economics freshman Bing Arend Vanderkam said he owns a pair of custom UT boots and felt the quality of the boots was well worth the price tag.
“A pair of cowboy boots is just part of the attire here,” he said. “They’re really high quality and they’re something I’ll own for a long time and not have to replace.”
Printed on Thursday, March 22, 2012 as: UT's official boots raise money for scholarships