A gentleman and a scholar: Celebrating the generous spirit of Vernon Faulconer

Feb 29, 2016 by

Vernon Faulconer helped a generation of minority students access the great equalizer – higher education – and more than 250 of them have graduated with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

“Vernon Faulconer was known for taking a long-term view and I think we should do the same,” said Matthew Ramirez, director of the Faulconer Scholarship Program. “His legacy will be seen in the lives and contributions of his Faulconer Scholars long into the future.”

A clever, unique and humble man, Faulconer passed away Aug. 7 in Dallas.

Vernon E. Faulconer

Vernon E. Faulconer

The founder of an oil and gas firm that originated with a small bank loan he used to begin buying and selling oil and gas leases and used drilling equipment, Faulconer emerged to tremendous business success. Vernon E. Faulconer Inc. operates hundreds of wells in nine states, with offices in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

Faulconer’s interest in improving the lives and futures of minority young people led him to establish the Faulconer Academic Incentive Award for Minority Students at TJC in 1990. Always interested in helping others, Faulconer knew his contributions could have a significant impact on the lives of hundreds of young people. He himself had been assisted by his high school librarian, who provided funds so that he could attend Grinnell College in Iowa.

Since 1990, 699 students have attended TJC on a Faulconer scholarship. There are currently 161 students attending colleges and universities with the assistance of the program, which allows students to receive funding for up to six years.

In 2004, Faulconer opened an office for the scholarship program and expanded it to include all Texas colleges and universities. Still, a majority of students chose to begin their studies at TJC, with only about 10 percent beginning at a four-year institution.

Eight Faulconer scholars are currently in graduate school; two graduates have completed doctoral degrees, including one who is a medical doctor; two Faulconer graduates are lawyers; and more than a dozen have completed master’s degrees in business administration.

“Vernon Faulconer believed soundly in the Jeffersonian Model, that education of the masses is the most critical element in a successful society,” said TJC President Dr. Mike Metke. “Vernon wanted to make certain that students of color were encouraged and embraced in their pursuit of academic credentials. He was a truly unique individual and his passing is a
great loss.”

With his passing, the Faulconer Scholarship Program ceased awarding new scholarships but continues to provide support and funding for scholars currently attending colleges and universities in Texas. When those students complete their degrees, the Faulconer Scholarship Program will conclude its operation.

In addition to his leadership of the scholarship program, Faulconer was a longtime member of the board of Grinnell College, his alma mater. He also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Dallas Museum of Art and was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Chinati Foundation.


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News, Winter 2016

About the author

Fred Peters is the Director of Public Affairs at Tyler Junior College. He can be reached at 903-510-2627 or at fpet@tjc.edu