Alums fund aid for Texan students

by Susan Matthews | 9/24/08 2:29am

Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones '73 donated $10 million to the College to be used for need-based scholarships, preferably for students from Texas, where the donors reside. The gift, announced on Tuesday, was made to the College's Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience, which aims to raise $1.3 billion dollars by December 2009 -- $166 million of which will be devoted to improving Dartmouth's financial aid programs.

"This gives us more endowment to support financial aid," Carolyn Pelzel, vice president of development for the College, said.

There will be no separate financial aid application for the Rees-Jones Family Scholarships, Pelzel said. Rather, applicants from Texas who need financial aid will be given preference for the scholarship money. Of the 50 U.S. states, Texas sends the seventh largest number of students to Dartmouth. There are 161 students from the state currently enrolled at the College. Due to the high number of Texan students, Pelzel said she does not believe the scholarship will be awarded to non-Texan students.

Trevor Rees-Jones is the founder and former CEO of Chief Oil & Gas, one of the biggest natural gas producers from the Barnett Shale in Texas, according to a College press release. In 2006 Rees-Jones sold the company to Devon Energy Corporation.The couple has also devoted time and money to charity work and established the Rees-Jones Foundation, which provides housing, medical care, education and hunger relief to struggling residents in northern Texas.

Previously, the Rees-Jones' have donated to the Dartmouth College Fund, named a conference room in Kemeny Hall and created the Trevor D. Rees-Jones Scholarship Fund. Additionally, Trevor Rees-Jones served as co-chair of the Class of 1973's Reunion Giving Committee.

"Jan and I feel so fortunate to be able to support Dartmouth and provide additional educational opportunities for young students from Texas to experience what I did during my years here," Trevor Rees-Jones said in the press release.

With the Rees-Jones' gift, the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience has now raised $100 million of the $166 million that will be directed towards financial aid. In January 2008, College President James Wright announced changes to the College's financial aid plan, including free tuition for students from families who earn less than $75,000 a year, need-blind admission to all international students, the replacement of existing student loans with scholarships and the elimination of earning expectations during students' leave terms.

"This generous gift from Jan and Trevor will enable us to offer one of the most competitive aid packages in the country," Wright said in the press release. "Their emphasis on regional scholarships will also help us maintain a diverse student body, an essential aspect of the learning environment."

Pelzel said she hopes that the Rees-Jones' donation will enhance the College's fund-raising efforts.

"We hope that this gift will inspire other alumni to endow scholarships with preferences for other regions and parts of the world that are meaningful to them," Pelzel said.