Philanthropy in Action: Students Share Gratitude for Legacy of Generosity
January 29, 2021
Decades of consistent giving can make a profound difference for LSU students. Roy Gerard’s first gift to LSU and the College of Engineering was in 1986. In 1988, he decided to begin the Gerard Family Undergraduate Scholarship Fund in Chemical Engineering, leveraging Shell Oil Company’s matching gifts program, a contribution from his brother, and an IRA rollover.
Thirty-five years later, Gerard’s generosity has touched alumni and students all over the world, as his endowed scholarship has grown to become the largest in the Cain Department of Chemical Engineering.
Jamie Keller is a current recipient of the Gerard Family Scholarship. She expressed her gratitude to Gerard by saying, “Your generosity is helping to make my goals a reality…I hope that one day, I too will be in a position to bring a smile to another needy student.”
Gerard followed many of his family to LSU, including an uncle, three cousins, two sisters, and a brother. “It was an easy decision,” he said.
Gerard earned his bachelor’s in chemical engineering in 1953 and his master’s in 1958. He continued toward a long and illustrious career in the energy industry, retiring in 1992 as a vice president at Shell Oil Company after 35 years. He served as the first president of Shell Saudi Petrochemical Company and managed Shell’s Westhollow research center for eight years. All the while, Gerard supported students and built his endowment through consistent gifts to his family scholarship, utilizing Shell’s matching funds.
In 1996, Gerard was inducted into the LSU College of Engineering Hall of Distinction, recognizing him as an LSU alumnus who has made a significant contribution to the engineering profession. His philanthropic engagement over the years has created immense opportunity for students, faculty, and other priorities within the college.
The Gerard Family Undergraduate Scholarship helps the chemical engineering department recruit top students and endears recipients to LSU. John Flake, professor and chair of the Cain Department of Chemical Engineering, sees the outcomes of Gerard’s consistent generosity.
“The Gerard Family Undergraduate Scholarship has made a tremendous impact in the lives of many of our students,” Flake said. “The support allows students to focus on the most difficult and time-consuming portion of their chemical engineering education without working or financial anxiety. There is no doubt in my mind that the generous donations of Mr. Gerard will continue to impact the lives of our students for years to come.”
The Gerard Family Scholarship endowment continues to gain momentum each year. Since 2014, there have been 28 recipients. Some of them have gone on to become engineers in the energy industry, graduate students, research scientists, chemical salespeople, and more.
Some of the recent recipients shared their gratitude.
- Kelly Robertson - “Receiving the Gerard Family Undergraduate Scholarship during such unprecedented and uncertain times [due to] the COVID-19 pandemic has been a blessing not only to me, but to my family as well. To comply with COVID-19 policies, my parents' business took a hit early on in the pandemic that has persisted through the following months. Because of your generosity and support for engineering students at LSU, I have been able to focus on the most important part of college, my academia, without having to worry about the financial aspect. I will always be grateful for the kindness you have shared with me and my university.”
- Darby Maloch - “I have accepted a full-time job in Houston starting this summer, and I am so grateful that I am debt free due to scholarships. You helped me to make my goals a reality. Thank you, again, for believing in me and showing your support through this scholarship!”
- Gloria Alvarado - “I lived in Venezuela for the first 12 years of my life. This scholarship has helped me remain motivated and determined to reach my utmost potential in any activity I may undertake.”
- Anna Sheffield – “It is by perfect happenstance that your scholarship ended up helping to cover my cost of schooling in the end! I feel that this is one of many signs that I truly made the right decision to pursue chemical engineering. I will remain appreciative of your support, and the support of the LSU engineering community as a whole, throughout my chemical engineering career.”
- Nihal Agrawai – “Chemical engineering is an extremely tough curriculum, and I value every moment I can devote to learning.”
In 2018, Gerard said, "I feel like I owe LSU. I had a scholarship there when I was in graduate school. I always felt a need to find a way to help."
Gerard was encouraged by his wife of 58 years, Minnie, to become involved with philanthropy and charitable work. Passionate about such work, Minnie, now deceased, even helped to fund and build Northwest Assistance Ministries, a Houston-area nonprofit that provides a variety of critical services to more than 100,000 people each year.