By Robin Herron
James W. and Sally Hazel have pledged $2 million to Mason to create a need- and merit-based endowed scholarship fund to benefit undergraduate students. James Hazel is a 1984 alumnus of Mason’s School of Law and a member of the George Mason University Foundation Board of Trustees.
The gift is the largest ever pledged to the university by one of its graduates and creates one of the largest endowments at the university.
To be called the Hazel Scholars Endowment, the fund will help support the University Scholars Program, which provides undergraduate scholarships for Mason’s most competitive students. This is part of a fund-raising effort in honor of Mason President Alan Merten, who will be stepping down as president of the university next year, and his wife, Sally Merten.
“Providing financial support to attract talented students has long been a priority of George Mason University,” says President Merten. “This generous gift by Jimmy and Sally Hazel sets a new bar for Mason and will have a meaningful impact on the students who will benefit.”
Hazel, who is currently an owner and investor of Manassas, Va.-based Angler Environmental, a wetland and stream bank mitigation company, says he and his wife decided to pledge the money to scholarships because “it’s one of the very biggest needs, if not the biggest need.”
“For me, the heart of any academic institution is its undergraduate population,” Hazel continues, “and having the ability to help many undergraduates over time achieve an education is something I’m very happy to do. Given the cost of an education, this can give somebody an opportunity that they might not otherwise have. To get an education is only going to make their life that much better.”
Hazel has a long history of service to his alma mater. While in law school he was president of the Student Bar Association and later the Law Alumni Association. He served on the Board of Visitors (BOV) from 1994 to 2002, and was a board member and president of the George Mason University Alumni Association. He received the Alumnus of the Year Award in 1987. He is currently vice chair of the foundation and chair of the Comprehensive Campaign Planning Committee.
“I am very pleased that a former member of the Board of Visitors and a Mason alumnus has set an example for all the alumni of the university,” says BOV Rector Ernst Volgenau. “This pledge reminds us of why we serve the university — to enable future generations to become productive citizens of the world by receiving the best education possible.”
As an endowment, the $2 million gift will form the basis to build future scholarships. As interest on the principal amount accumulates, individual scholarships will be funded. Scholarship recipients must be Virginia residents, demonstrate financial need and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 throughout the four-year term of the scholarship.