Longtime UM Supporter Receives Bucklew Award
Nelson Weller’s enduring relationship with UM began as a student in 1956. After serving in the United States Coast Guard, Weller attended UM under the GI Bill and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics. The financial support he received as a student ignited a spirit of giving back that has shaped his connection to UM ever since.
For decades Weller has supported the University through volunteer service, mentorship and contributions to numerous creative initiatives.
“I think very highly of my university,” Weller said. “It offered me so many opportunities.”
In February, the UM Foundation trustee emeritus was presented the Neil S. Bucklew Presidential Service Award at the annual Charter Day Awards ceremony. The Bucklew Award recognizes the work of those who have fostered a deeper understanding of UM’s needs and strengths throughout the community and state.
Twenty-seven years ago, Weller established one of the first Presidential Leadership Scholarships, an award designed to recognize outstanding student talent, academic performance and service to the community. He has now funded over 20 full-ride scholarships and has extended himself as a mentor and friend to each student recipient.
Andrea Goudge was the inaugural recipient of Weller’s scholarship and is a current UM Foundation trustee.
“The Presidential Leadership Scholarship encouraged me to challenge myself in ways I might not have otherwise,” Goudge said. “Nelson became a mentor and an advocate who not only believed in me, but also pushed me to be the best I could be.”
Weller’s philanthropy has reached beyond financially supporting students, inspiring many of the Davidson Honors College’s most dedicated scholars to give generously as well.
“Nelson modeled the value of giving back and coached me on the importance of being ‘philanthropic in your own lifetime,’” said Goudge. “Now, he’s the kind of donor I aspire to emulate.”
Even as he is honored for his generosity, Weller continues to create innovative ways to invest in UM’s students. He recently established a paid internship program at the UM Foundation that allows honors students to gain real-world experience. And he has directed his Bucklew Award to be used as a scholarship for an economics student, coming full circle on a UM journey that began sixty years ago.
Hear more from Nelson and Andrea in this 2013 video: SupportUM.org/ISS.
Pictured above: Nelson Weller speaks at the Charter Day Awards ceremony on February 18, 2016.