Mead Ferguson wants Northwestern to succeed. He feels that the campus in Woodward is not only a good way to shape minds for the future but that it is also a stronghold for the community. Mead and his wife Mary have decided to establish the Mead and Mary Ferguson scholarship for the students who want to continue their education at Northwestern, and possibly pursue a career in Woodward.
Mead was raised in Woodward and is a third generation owner of the Blackspur Ranch in Woodward County. He attended Woodward schools and received his Bachelor of Science degree from Yale University and his M.B.A. from Harvard University. Mary grew up in Fredericksburg, Tex. and graduated from Hollins University in Virginia. They were married in 1960. In 1979, after working for over 20 years for Standard Oil, N.J., now Exxon Mobile Corporation, Mead returned to his roots and took over the family ranches in Oklahoma and Kansas. The Fergusons have three children and five grandchildren.
There were three items that Mead had in mind when deciding on who received the scholarship. One, the student had to attend the Woodward campus. The purpose of this is to not only give a scholarship but give the students attending the Woodward campus as much of an opportunity for assistance as students at other universities.
Two, since Mead has an agriculture and business background, the scholarship was to be geared in that direction. The scholarship was also to have a broad scope so the Dean of the Woodward campus could recommend a deserving student.
Three, the recipient had to be a continuing student, preferably an upperclassman or "late-bloomer" as Mead called them. He knew that freshmen had many options coming out of high school for scholarships and he wanted to give those students past the freshman year a chance at those same opportunities. He wanted to help the students who might have struggled early in their college careers but turned it around later or maybe they had families that came first so they put their education on hold.
"We like to give these scholarships," Ferguson said. "We feel it's important for Woodward and the school that we try to invest in our community."
Since his retirement from Exxon, Mead has kept up the ranches but also started teaching an entrepreneurship class via ITV for Northwestern. Because of his affiliation with the university and his long standing with Exxon, for every dollar that Mead and Mary give for a scholarship, Exxon will match it at three-to-one. This allows the scholarship to grow exponentially.
"I want to build up the scholarship to continue after Mary and I are gone. It's worthwhile to give this scholarship and hopefully down the road we can give it to more than one student at a time," Ferguson said. "The most important thing is that the scholarship gets awarded."
The sole purpose for Mead and Mary is helping as many students as possible be successful. The idea that they have an opportunity to embrace students who have come back and have the desire to do better is something they value. They like knowing that the students chosen are going to be a contributing force in the economy and hopefully they can get some of them to stick around.
"I think the most important thing for me now is to help these students establish relationships that will help them be successful later in life," Ferguson said.
"One of the wonderful things that I appreciate about Mead and Mary is their commitment to Northwestern. They have given an incredibly generous amount for the establishment of their scholarship," Skeeter Bird, Northwestern Foundation Executive Director, said. "Mead's willingness to teach here at Northwestern demonstrates a huge time commitment as well. Mead and Mary will both make lasting, positive differences for our students and ultimately our northwest Oklahoma communities."
Over the last ten years, the Northwestern Woodward campus has grown and work is under way to give them their own facilities. It is through the help of people like the Fergusons that allow Northwestern to be part of the community's success and growth.
"Mead and Mary Ferguson are known for their generosity in the Woodward community. Their continued dedication to support education in our area is appreciated by the students, faculty, and staff of Northwestern Oklahoma State University," Dr. Deena Fisher, Dean of the Northwestern Woodward Campus, said.
"I would like for the students to know that Woodward is a great place and the fact that Northwestern is here really helps. Hopefully, we can encourage students to stay and make Woodward a better place," Ferguson said.
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