Flagler Alumni Board embraces Kenan Scholarship match opportunity

Flagler Alumni Board embraces Kenan Scholarship match opportunity
September 29, 2023
By Nancy Moreland
In May 2022, 10 Flagler College alumni joined forces with a vision for the future.

During the 2022 Alumni Board meeting, members were invited to embrace a historic opportunity: a 3-to-1 challenge grant from The William R. Kenan, Jr., Charitable Trust. $2 million of the Kenan Trust's gift will serve as a match to other donors in establishing up to 85 new endowed scholarships for students with demonstrated financial need. 

Ten Board members answered the call. Their combined $150,000 in gifts toward new scholarships brought Flagler closer to fulfilling the Kenan match.  

“We have raised $1.5 million of the $2 million scholarship match so far, leaving just $500,000 left to match,” Jeffrey Davitt ’07, senior director of development at Flagler’s Office of Institutional Advancement said. 

The Kenan Trust hopes to establish 85 new scholarships – an ambitious, yet necessary goal considering that 97 percent of Flagler students rely on financial aid.  

“These particular endowed scholarships help us recruit and retain students who might otherwise never be able to afford higher education,” Davitt said.  

He recalled the Board’s immediate enthusiasm to meet this challenge.  

“Just under half of the Board immediately stepped up to fund scholarships,” Davitt said. “Not only did they step up, they encouraged their friends to start scholarships, too. And several Board members introduced me to other individuals who also endowed scholarships.” 

By taking advantage of the Kenan Trust matching grant, just 10 Alumni Board members translated $150,000 into $300,000. 

Marisa Meadows ‘97 was among the first to come forward.  

“With the Kenan match, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have the money go so much further,” Meadows said.  

For Meadows, supporting Flagler is a way to “pay it forward” for other students and to thank the institution that got her off to a great start.  

“The College gave me so much at a pivotal moment in my life,” she said. “It set me up for success.”  

While Meadows’ professional success allowed her to make a significant gift, she urges other alumni to give what they can.  

“Start with a five or 10-dollar donation,” Meadows said. “There are so many ways to give.” 

Alumni support not only helps students; it also fosters a philanthropic campus culture where the Flagler community learns to pay it forward and help one another.  

The Alumni Board donors represent graduates from several decades: Captain Don Simmons III, ’87, Jerry Provin ’91, Ed Lombard ’97, Marisa Meadows ’97, Ronnie Nichols ’97, Laura English Dawson ’99, Mary Beth Albritton ‘01, Melissa Dewhurst ’03, Jordan Ross '04, Wayne Thomas '05, Jeff Garrison ‘06, and Jacob Harding ’07.  

The group was honored at the fall Alumni Board dinner on October 7, 2022. 

Their generosity advances many of Flagler’s goals, such as providing financial need-based support and increasing access to education. Scholarships allow students to focus on educational experiences that help them advance in their chosen field and prepare to compete in a global economy. 

Reflecting on his reason for giving, Board member Ronnie Nichols ’97 said it was the people at Flagler that made his college experience so special.  

“College is about academics and learning, but also about the people you meet along the way,” Nichols said. “Ms. Delores Love made a lasting impression on me during my time at Flagler. I believe many other alumni also have fond memories of Ms. Love making students feel at home while at Flagler.”  

Nichols and his wife Rachel Wootten ’98 established the Delores Rutledge Love Endowed Scholarship in honor of Love, a former dining hall employee. The scholarship assists specific students who demonstrate a strong spirit of serving others and are interested in pursuing a Hospitality and Tourism Management degree.  

The couple said they committed to this endowment because they feel that Flagler’s scholarship campaign aligns with their values, and they’re grateful for all the people that have made it successful so far.  

“We thank everyone who has already supported this important scholarship,” Nichols said. 

To follow the generous example of our Alumni Board members, contact Senior Director of Development, Jeffrey Davitt at 904-819-6489 or JDavitt@flagler.edu 

For more information about how you can support Flagler Forward, visit our Flagler Forward Website.