Sharing the UNC Experience
June 13, 2022
Jennifer (McHugh) Taylor ’87 and Dan Taylor ’86, of Monument, Colo., are unabashedly proud of UNC and deeply appreciate the experiences they had as students there. They recently established the Daniel and Jennifer Taylor Family Scholarship Endowment through an estate gift currently valued at $375,000, in hopes that others will be able to experience UNC and Bear life.
“I want this gift to be seen as something that contributes to the lives of students at UNC,” Jen says.
The endowment will provide two scholarships annually for Colorado residents – one for students studying Political Science, and another for students studying business.
Jen earned her degree in Political Science and says it was a path she discovered after she arrived at UNC.
Originally from Colorado Springs, she chose UNC because she wanted to go somewhere different than where many other students were going, but she wasn’t sure what she wanted to study. “I thought, ‘I'm going to just try and start a new chapter and go somewhere different.’ And I'm glad I did that. I didn't declare until the end of my sophomore year. I took an intro to political science class, and I found that really interesting.”
She added in business classes, and after graduation her work path turned to sales, marketing and community relations, eventually leading her to a distinguished career with community organizations. “I think the foundation UNC gave me in terms of writing and public speaking has really helped me a lot,” she says.
Dan points out that Jen’s career achievements include work on a significant number of charity boards and being honored as a woman of influence in their community.
One of many impactful opportunities she experienced as a student was a semester abroad at what’s now called Oxford Brookes University in England.
“My advisor worked hard with me to get that done, and that was a transformational experience studying in another country,” she says. “The advisors really stood out as caring – they cared about my education and my experience. When I was struggling, they were there; when I needed to do an independent study, they were there.”
Dan, who also grew up in Colorado Springs, remembers his advisor giving him pivotal advice and helping shape his UNC experience as well.
He had started college with a football scholarship at a small Kansas college, but a knee injury and subsequent surgery sent him from the gridiron to a path that brought him to UNC.
In his first year, he took some business and economics courses that he loved, even though he had declared a gerontology major.
“As in many cases, it’s a matter of finding your calling,” he says. “My gerontology advisor spoke great wisdom into my life. After a couple of long discussions, he counseled me, ‘Dan you’re made for the business world, go to the business school, you can still help people, you can still make a difference in the world, but this isn't who you are.’ In retrospect it was a pivotal moment in my life.”
Dan took his advice, focused on business, and found his calling. “I have had an amazing and successful business career, and now facilitate leadership groups with people from all over the country. I couldn't feel better about the preparation that UNC gave me to help me make a difference in the world.”
Both Jen and Dan want to see other UNC students have great educational experiences as well. When they decided to support students through scholarships, it was in part because of the lessons in philanthropy that Jen’s parents (Bob and Ruth McHugh) had shared.
“I had great role models with my parents and their philanthropic giving. From the time I was old enough to remember, they were giving to our community,” she says.
Jen’s parents supported higher education at several universities, providing scholarship support – and providing an example of the impact donors can have on both traditional and non-traditional students.
“To me, it was a great way to give back,” she says. “So many students don't get a chance to go to college. Their example galvanized in me that need to give back. So as Dan and I were talking about estate planning, we started talking about UNC.”
“Her dad taught business law,” Dan adds. “He got a perfect score on the Colorado Bar Exam. It felt great to say, ‘We’re going to make a difference for students down the road.’”
He says that he’s hoping other alumni will step forward and be inspired to come together to help UNC students for generations to come, building UNC’s scholarship endowment to really make a difference.
“This is the competitive side of me,” he says. “I’m proud I went to UNC. I think we went to the best school in the country.”
As he and Jen talked about classes they took and the impact professors had on them, it was clear that even though they’ve gone on to succeed in their lives and careers, they haven’t forgotten what they learned at UNC.
“I had a really tough business law class, and the teacher had a reputation for being tough and he didn't put up with anything from anybody,” Jen remembers. “This was my sophomore year, and I worked harder in that class than I did in all of college, because frankly I wanted to impress my dad.”
“Droegemueller,” Dan says, referring to Business Professor Droegemueller. “Yeah. He was a legend, that was for sure. He was also an exceptional instructor.”
“It was a challenge,” Jen says. “I would go in and consult with him and he would help me. He's the one that taught me how to study and create outlines. That kind of hard work got me an A in that class, one of very few A's in that class. And I remember calling my dad that night when I got my grades. I was so excited, and I could just feel through the phone that he was beaming.”
Even years later, the memory of that phone call comes to life as Jen shares it. And it’s that kind of memorable educational experience that Jen and Dan Taylor hope to make possible for students for years to come.
To learn more about gift planning at UNC, visit www.unco.edu/give or contact