Ellis Family Foundation gifts $1 million for UW scholarships


LARAMIE, WYOMING (Jan. 3, 2020) — A $1 million gift from the Ellis Family Foundation, doubled to $2 million by the state matching funds program, will create the F.E. “Tut” and V. Diane Ellis President’s Endowed Scholarship, supporting the best and brightest Wyoming students seeking engineering degrees at UW.

“Education allowed Tut and Diane Ellis to see the world,” said Valerie Jochen of the Ellis Family Foundation. “But, no matter where they roamed, Wyoming has always been home. Passing it forward is an honor.”

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The Wyoming Legislature established a $2.5 million state matching funds program in March 2019 to support the UW President’s Endowed Scholarship Program. Donor gifts of a minimum of $50,000 were doubled to create named endowments, and donors were able to direct funding to support students in their areas of interest, such as degree program, geographic location or other demographic criteria.

“The generosity of the Ellis Family Foundation and the state of Wyoming is allowing the University of Wyoming to compete successfully with other leading universities to recruit outstanding high school seniors,” said UW Acting President Neil Theobald. “The funding from donors and the state matching funds program also is making it possible for meritorious incoming freshmen from families in need to attend UW.”

Scholarships are vital for engineering majors who often need financial assistance to complete their degrees. The F.E. “Tut” and V. Diane Ellis President’s Endowed Scholarship will have a significant impact on recruiting Wyoming students, extending even more opportunities for students who want to enroll in the UW College of Engineering and Applied Science.

“The Ellis Family Foundation endowment will have an immensely positive impact, far beyond what I think any of us can imagine at this moment,” said Cameron Wright, interim dean and professor of electrical and computer engineering. “While UW is a top-rated school for affordability and value, there is still a profound need for financial assistance to pursue higher education. Our future students, who perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to attend college, will be able to use this amazingly generous gift and pay the world back tenfold by going on to solve the engineering community’s most important challenges. We are so very grateful to the Ellis Family Foundation for that opportunity, which they have provided with this gift.”

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In addition to the President’s Endowed Scholarship, the Ellis Family Foundation previously established the F.E. “Tut” and Diane Ellis Family Foundation Endowed Scholarship in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, an award that has supported generations of future petroleum engineers.

Support for the President’s Endowed Scholarship program has created unprecedented interest, as numerous donors have stepped forward to create new scholarship opportunities for Wyoming students.

  • The Ann Pickard and Dan Smith President’s Endowed Scholarship for First-Generation Students is a scholarship reserved for high-achieving first-generation Wyoming residents.
  • The Kemmerer President’s Endowed Scholarship is for students in the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources’ Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management Program.
  • The Stark Family President’s Endowed Scholarship, established by Doug and Deniz Stark, supports transfer students to the UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

A total of 22 gifts have captured almost the entirety of the $2.5 million state matching fund, which is anticipated to soon be reached in full.

Other areas supported by the President’s Endowed Scholarships include community college transfer students; Native American students; women students in engineering; and students in business, education, engineering, environment and natural resources, ecosystem science and management, molecular biology, zoology, physiology, ecology, chemistry and physics.

“We’re delighted with this remarkable gift and what it will help us accomplish on behalf of Wyoming’s university,” said Ben Blalock, UW Foundation president/CEO. “The Ellis Family Foundation is investing in UW excellence. This is a gift that brings leadership and prestige to UW.”

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There are still opportunities to establish a President’s Endowed Scholarship fund that can be met by the state matching fund program. Call the UW Foundation at 307-766-6300 or visit www.uwyo.edu/foundation/presidents-endowed-scholarship to learn more.

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