Shirlee and Taylor Gandy create $1 million scholarship for first-generation students
Shirlee Gandy was the first in her family to graduate from college. Now she and her husband want to help other first-generation students achieve their dreams of earning a degree.
The Shirlee J. and Taylor Gandy First Generation Scholarship Program will benefit UT Arlington sophomores on the basis of merit and financial need. The endowment was established through a $500,000 commitment from the Gandys that will double in value through the Maverick Match program, which leverages the University’s natural gas royalties to encourage philanthropic commitments.
Shirlee Gandy, president of RPM Commercial in Fort Worth, earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from UT Arlington in 1970 and serves in a leadership role on the University’s Development Board. She has specialized in historic preservation of commercial property, including the Ashton Hotel, the historic Santa Fe Depot, and the Santa Fe Freight Building—now the home of the UT Arlington Fort Worth Center.
Taylor Gandy has been an owner and investor in commercial real estate in Fort Worth as a partner in Baron Investments and Ron Investments for the past 20 years. Previously, he practiced law for 30 years. He has been active at Texas Wesleyan University and is a former chairman of Downtown Fort Worth Inc. The couple recently led the campaign to establish the JFK Tribute in downtown Fort Worth.
Shirlee Gandy says they were moved to create the scholarship because of their strong belief in UT Arlington’s academic mission. “In my opinion, education changes lives, builds confidence, and develops individuals with strong critical thinking skills. We wanted to make this financial commitment to help first-generation students achieve their goals.”
More than half of UT Arlington students say they are the first in their family to attend college, and about two-thirds of undergraduates receive financial aid. In recent years the University has increased advising, tutoring, and counseling to serve such students.