Doug and Ginny Jewell

Doug and Ginny Jewell
Doug and Ginny Jewell with College of Music students Stephen Martin, Matthew Nix, and Johnathan McNurlen, recipients of the Virginia (Mills) and Douglas F. Jewell Endowed Dean’s Scholarship. 2012

A chance meeting with College of Music Dean James Forger on idyllic Mackinac Island one warm summer day determined the direction of Doug and Ginny Jewell’s plans for giving back to MSU.

“During the annual Arts Weekend there one year, we got to know Jim, who at that time was director of the School of Music, which was then part of the College of Arts and Letters,” Doug explains. “His enthusiasm and vision for the future of music education at Michigan State was infectious and we were anxious to find some way to show our support. As soon as he was named dean of the new College of Music we knew it was time to help out.”

The result: the Virginia (Mills) and Douglas F. Jewell Endowed Dean’s Scholarship in the College of Music, which supports outstanding undergraduate and graduate students of exceptional talent and promise through a $300,000 endowment that will grow to $800,000 with an additional planned gift that Doug and Ginny recently established in a bequest.

The Jewells, who are members of MSU’s Theophilus C. Abbot Society, live in Tucson, Arizona. They received bachelor’s degrees in social science from MSU in 1960 and 1961, respectively. Doug later completed a master’s degree and enjoyed a successful career in sales and marketing for Indianapolis-based Herff Jones, Inc., a manufacturer of class rings, yearbooks, and academic regalia. Ginny earned a master’s degree at Indiana University and taught for 14 years at Brebeuf Preparatory High School in Indianapolis.

“Without the generosity of the taxpayers of Michigan and MSU alumni it would have been very difficult for Ginny or me to earn our degrees,” Doug says. “We always assumed that, if we were ever financially able, it would be our turn to help others.”  

“The uncanny thing about our giving is that we’ve always felt we received more than we gave. The chance to meet the bright and talented new recipients of these scholarships keeps us young. They are so appreciative and so excited about their futures in music – they are a true inspiration!”

“Doug and Ginny Jewell love life, music, students, and Michigan State University,” says Dean Forger. “When the School of Music became a college, they chose that moment to celebrate through the creation of a substantial dean’s discretionary student scholarship endowment that generously supports students in areas of  greatest promise and opportunity. And they have followed these young people with great care, interest, and support through the years. They have become wonderful friends to all who know them in the College of Music and we could not be more fortunate!”

The impact of the Jewells’ scholarship on the lives of the students who have received it has been transformative.

"I'm so thankful for getting to know the Jewells and for the scholarship they created,” says senior Stephen Martin, a vocal arts performance major. “Their generosity and kindness opened a door that otherwise would have been shut. For that, I couldn't be more grateful."

"The scholarship I received from Doug and Ginny Jewell pushed me to appreciate and achieve even more through my college studies than I already had,” adds senior Matthew Nix, who is majoring in music education and cello performance. “They confirm for me that there are people who care deeply for music and the arts in our community and that my chosen career path in music education and music performance is one valued by others.”

Initially, the Jewells funded their endowment through cash gifts. In 2011 they added significantly to their legacy by establishing a charitable remainder trust that names the College of Music as a substantial beneficiary of their estate.  When the trust matures, it will ensure their desire to support outstanding students of music will continue in perpetuity.

The Jewells have also chosen to support the college’s extensive program of faculty performances by sponsoring the Piano Monster concert on Sunday, May 13. Eight grand pianos will be played simultaneously by members of the college’s piano faculty. This critically acclaimed biannual event is part of the Showcase Series sponsored by the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union.

For more information on how you can make a gift to the College of Music, contact Rebecca Surian, senior director of development and alumni relations, at (517) 353-9872 or