Giving to Give Back to the University that Gives So Much
Joel ('79) and Nancy Scott both feel fortunate to have graduated from four-year colleges with no student debt.
He earned his bachelor's degree in wildlife biology from NC State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, while she earned degrees in history, English, and education from Meredith College in just three and a half years.
The Scotts know the picture often looks different for today's student.
"We worked in the summer, paid our way each year, and got some help from the college," Joel Scott said. "I see many kids now who come out with a lot of debt."
College helped prepare the two of them, now retired, from successful careers. That success, coupled with the needs they see, is why they have chosen to give back to both NC State and Meredith College.
"Around 2007, we created our trusts and wills," Scott said. "We thought we would end up not using all of what we had accumulated - and NC State and Meredith were in both of our wills from the very beginning."
In March 2023, the couple participated in NC State's annual Day of Giving by formally documenting their estate plans with the university. The Scotts joined thousands of other donors to make Day of Giving a success, and helped demonstrate the variety of ways individuals can support the university.
"For us, it was about giving back to the institutions that made it possible to do what we did."
"We decided on unrestricted gifts when designating our funds, in that we wanted [our money] to go where it's needed most - whether that's a student that needs a scholarship or a professor who needs the funds for research," Joel Scott said.
Unrestricted gifts are used at the discretion of leaders at a specific college or university to meet top-priority needs or to embrace emerging opportunities. The Scotts' support over the years has gone to NC State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) Dean's Fund for Excellence, the CALS Dean's Fund for Academic Excellence, and the University's Greatest Needs Fund.
The couple's estate plan includes a gift (also known as a planned or deferred gift) to benefit the University's Greatest Needs Fund; the chancellor directs spending from this fund. With this plan in place, the Scotts will leave money to NC State upon their deaths.
Nancy entered the banking industry after graduating from Meredith. She continued to work in financial and insurance services after switching to private mortgage insurance underwriting in Ohio and Georgia, and she retired after more than 25 years in the mortgage insurance underwriting field.
For Joel, the career path was not a direct one, but one where he found satisfaction and success.
By middle school, he was set on studying wildlife biology. NC State was his only college application because it was the only in-state school at the time with a wildlife biology program.
While at NC State, he learned he would most likely need a master's degree to do the work he wanted to do - manage a wildlife preserve. Yet graduate school spots were few and Scott knew earning a master's would be a challenging road.
So, he took a job at a medical research farm in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, doing heart research work with primates. He remained interested in wildlife biology though, so when Ohio State offered him a spot in a wildlife management master's program, he took it.
His next step landed him a little closer to his dream. He started working with a company that specialized in wildlife removal from homes and businesses. Life took a turn when he fell off a ladder and broke both legs at that job, resulting in a career path change.
He moved into environmental management and environmental science, first with a consulting firm and then with the State of Ohio's Environmental Protection Agency.
"It was there I really learned what I wanted to do," Scott said. "I found out I was good at interpreting, implementing and working with environmental regulations."
He took a role focused on permit writing for wastewater plants and from there, his career in the solid waste industry took off.
He and Nancy moved to Georgia, where he later founded a consulting firm with five partners. Atlantic Coast Consulting Inc. began in 2005 and grew to fifteen employees within the first six months. The organization focused on permitting, engineering, and monitoring within the solid waste industry. Scott retired from his role there as vice president of landfill operations in 2021.
"My path was not one that someone would plot," he said with a laugh.
His role in helping clients and solving their problems turned out to be rewarding every day. His university years laid the foundation in his life for everything that came after.
"I did a lot of growing at NC State," he said. "I learned how to study, how to finish things I start and how to live on my own.
"My degree and the reputation of the school helped get me into Ohio State - and a lot of people look at that undergraduate degree and graduate degree and see that this is someone who would finish what they set out to do."
Scott encourages other alumni to think about the path NC State set them on and what their college experience meant for them, not just in the classroom but in personal growth and life skill development.
"It's only right to give back to the university, because the university probably gave us much more than our tuition paid for," he said.