At the capitol in Austin, situated among the photos and documents and other various to-do's on Drew Springer Jr.'s ('88) desk, sits an Eppy bobblehead. The porcelain replica of the North Texas mascot, now known as Scrappy, once belonged to his father, Drew Springer Sr. ('66).
It's just one in a long line of things -- from personality attributes to an affinity for numbers -- that the elder Springer has passed on to his son and, by extension, the rest of his brood.
"That bobblehead has always stayed on my desk, mainly because it symbolizes the spirit of North Texas," Drew Jr. says, "and the tradition that has stayed in our family."
It's a tradition that dates back to 1964, when Drew Sr. arrived at North Texas from Weatherford College with the goal of becoming an accountant. At the time, he never considered he would be the first of many in his family to call the Denton campus home. But since then, Drew Jr. -- like his father -- graduated from UNT with a degree in accounting. Drew Sr.'s other son, Mark, briefly attended, and four of his grandchildren -- including Drew Jr.'s sons Austin and Grant, along with Mark's children Hannah and Jacob -- currently attend.
The elder Springer, who owns Springer Financial Services in Weatherford, also frequently acts as an unofficial UNT recruiter, advising clients whose kids are headed to college to stop by UNT for a quick visit.
"I know at least 25 kids who have come back from a tour and said, 'Whoa, that was the nicest campus -- I felt so at home there," says Drew Sr., a former accounting alumnus of the year in the G. Brint Ryan College of Business and current member of the UNT Foundation Executive Committee. "And they end up coming here."
Part of that at-home feeling is due to the Springers, who have contributed to the Basketball Enhancement Fund, the Diamond Eagles Excellence Fund and the Greek Life Center, among other support. As an undergrad, Drew Jr. -- now a representative for Texas House of Representatives, District 68, a VP of commodity investments in his father's firm, and a director of client services and business development services for Ryan -- was an active member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, which ignited his love of public service.
"That experience nurtured what I think was always there in me, and what I observed from my father -- a desire to give back," he says.
Now UNT is giving back to the Springers, too, honoring the family at this year's UNT Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards with the Generations of Excellence Award.
"It's sort of shocking. There's always that moment of thinking, 'Really, you're picking us?'" Drew Jr. says. "To know that I followed in my father's footsteps, and that my kids followed in mine, I think that's a real testament to UNT. I like to think that as we move forward as a university, there will be even more of those first-generation students whose kids and grandkids will follow in their footsteps, who are going to come here with that same sort of legacy and pride."
Pride is exactly the word Drew Sr. would use, too, and not just when it comes to his alma mater. When he looks at the accomplishments of his kids and grandkids, and especially the son who is so much like himself, he can't help but be grateful for where his life -- and education -- have taken him and his family.
"Drew and I are more alike than different, but he certainly does things I could never do," Drew Sr. says. "It's a dream come true, to see my son be even better than I ever thought about being."