Keeping College within Reach

Mildred Price Varner, the wife of the late James Varner 43C, with President Wagner.
Ann Borden

When Emory leaders learned in early 2011 of the $14.4 million gift from the estate of James E. Varner 43C to support student need-based scholarships, it was hailed as “exactly the right gift at the right time.” “There’s no greater challenge facing the college today than keeping Emory accessible and affordable,” said Emory Trustee Wendell Reilly 80C.

As national concern continues to grow over the cost of higher education in a tense economy, the Varner gift already has supported more than two hundred Emory students. Some $225 million in Campaign Emory gifts has been designated for student scholarships, and many hundreds of students have benefited from Emory’s need-based programs since 2007.

An Atlanta banker with a career that spanned nearly four decades, Varner believed that the education he received at Emory helped him achieve financial success, and he hoped his gift to the college would help others excel. “It is a pleasant obligation to continue to contribute to Emory and make it a little easier for students who come behind me,” Varner said. He died in March 2010.

Varner’s estate contributed an additional $1.4 million to the $50 million renovation and expansion of Sanford S. Atwood Hall, one of Emory’s two chemistry buildings.

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