MCC Foundation receives history-making $1.5M gift

The Metropolitan Community College Foundation has received a contribution valued at just over $1.5 million, the largest individual-donor gift in the Foundation’s history, from the estate of John Robert and Anna Jeanne Neeland.

John and Anna NeelandJohn and Anna Neeland, who both passed away in 2012 at the age of 92, were married 67 years. As part of their estate planning, the Neelands set aside for the MCC Foundation stock from Conoco Phillips, where Mr. Neeland worked for 40 years. Additionally, the couple bequeathed more than $14,000 in life insurance proceeds to the Foundation.

The money will be used to support current and future students at MCC’s Maple Woods campus. John Neeland was an alumnus of MCC-Maple Woods, and also served as a part-time faculty member and a volunteer at the campus.

“This gift will allow our students to receive a level of support that was not available to them before,” said Utpal Goswami, president of MCC-Maple Woods.

Mr. Neeland worked at the Phillips Petroleum Refinery laboratory from 1941 until 1981, when the refinery closed and he retired. Mr. Neeland was a military veteran, having served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

After retiring from Phillips, Mr. Neeland enrolled in computer classes at MCC-Maple Woods and was soon recruited to teach hydraulics and pneumatics classes. Later, he volunteered as a chemistry tutor, a role he enthusiastically continued until the age of 87. He served on the MCC Foundation’s board of directors as well as the MCC-Maple Woods Advisory Council.

Before naming the MCC Foundation as the recipient of the Conoco Phillips stock in their bequest, the Neelands made other contributions to the college, including a gift to purchase a new clarion for the bell tower at MCC-Maple Woods. Also, in memory of their only child, who died at the age of 6, the Neelands created the Jeanne Marie Neeland Scholarship Fund, which is distributed annually to a student studying science at MCC-Maple Woods.

The Neelands’ gift comes as the Foundation and the five-campus Metropolitan Community College system are preparing for a first-ever comprehensive major gifts campaign.

“We are humbled that Mr. and Mrs. Neeland chose to leave a legacy through this significant gift that will benefit generations of students attending MCC-Maple Woods,” said MCC Chancellor Mark James. “And we hope other supporters will follow the Neelands’ lead to help us create better access and more opportunities for bright, deserving MCC students.”