Nancy Gracey Richardson, Honorary Alumna: Dedication to the School of Science

Nancy Gracey Richardson, Honorary Alumna: Dedication to the School of ScienceNancy Gracey Richardson’s first engagement with Saint Mary’s College was in the early 1990s when she and family attended athletic events. She met staff member, Ron Turner ’79, at a Women’s Basketball game and learned more about the College’s academics and mission over time.

Nancy has now included bequests in her estate plan to benefit the School of Science Equipment Endowment and her two endowed scholarships in science and science teaching. These gifts align perfectly with her interest and appreciation for the role Saint Mary’s plays in providing student scholarships, science research opportunities with faculty, and cutting-edge equipment and technologies.

Over the last few years, the College has successfully raised $1.6 million for science equipment. Nancy was sitting on the School of Science Advisory Board at the start of these discussions. She has chaired the Board for the past three years and has agreed to serve as chair for two more.

Her interest in science began back in middle school and her undergraduate degree is in chemistry. Nancy’s first job out of college was at the Shell Oil Company in Emeryville. There were three departments for women with scientific backgrounds and she was placed in the Patent Department. Her entire career revolved around patents, primarily as a Patent Agent with Shell and at law firms. Nancy says, “I got paid to learn. I liked helping people think more broadly and develop and focus their research scope.”

“I like knowing that I can make a difference here at Saint Mary’s. Sitting on the School of Science Advisory Board, we have the opportunity to meet faculty and students, particularly those participating in the summer science research project. I also like meeting the students who have my two scholarships. We need to encourage students to teach science; it is such an important field that is not widely shared by everyone. It is wonderful to donate and know you are making things better,” says Nancy.

The priorities of the science advisory board are to fund equipment, seek equipment donations, develop internship and mentoring opportunities, and determine future needs.

“The new equipment allows the College to offer students a quality, hands-on science education, preparing them to be successful in future careers,” says Dr. Roy Wensley, dean of the School of Science. President James Donahue says, “The donation from Nancy, and the gifts of other generous donors, enhances the reputation and visibility of the School of Science, our fastest growing school, and confirms the outstanding science education offered by Saint Mary’s. I am so grateful to Nancy for her leadership of the School of Science Advisory Board and her generosity. “