Nevels-Fitts Scholarship Program
James E. Nevels, chairman of The Swarthmore Group and chair of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, has extended his commitment to education with a $1 million gift to Penn Law School. His gift will be used to establish the Nevels-Fitts Scholars Program, which will provide financial aid to students. Mr. Nevels graduated from Penn Law in 1978. That year, he also earned a degree from the Wharton School.
“As the first person in my family to attend college, I feel I owe a great debt to Penn Law School, which paved the way for my subsequent success,” said Mr. Nevels. “The least I can do is help others gain the same advantage that a Penn education afforded me.”
The new financial aid program is named in honor of Dean Michael A. Fitts, who has led the law school since 2000. “No one has done more in Philadelphia than Jim Nevels to effectuate change in the public schools. He is the epitome of a civic leader, engaged in seeking solutions that make the community stronger. I am proud to be associated with him and with the program he has so graciously decided to create.”
Mr. Nevels, who is leading the most comprehensive urban school reform effort in the nation, has been chairman of the School Reform Commission since his appointment by the governor in 2001. Under his leadership, test scores have improved in some of the worst performing districts.
“Philadelphia is most fortunate to have a public citizen like Jim Nevels, who has served the city and its public schools with such distinction,” said President Amy Gutmann. “His great gift to Penn Law School reminds us of his abiding commitment to the ideals of education and the importance of increasing access for talented individuals from all walks of life seeking knowledge. For this, I salute him.”
A member of the Penn Law Board of Overseers, Mr. Nevels is also associated with a number of other educational institutions. He serves on the boards of Berea College and Saint Joseph’s University and on the board of the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities. He also serves on the Board of Visitors at Temple’s Fox School of Business and Management and on the Advisory Board of the Baida Center at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business. Previously he was a trustee at his alma mater, Bucknell, and a member of the Board of Control for the Chester-Upland School District.
In April 2005, President Bush appointed Mr. Nevels chairman of the advisory committee to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. He currently serves on the boards of Tasty Baking Company and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Mr. Nevels is chairman and founder of The Swarthmore Group, an asset management firm that is one of the largest minority-owned businesses in the country. The firm, based in West Chester, manages nearly $2 billion in equity and fixed income assets.
Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 16, December 20, 2005