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Dr. Colin and Jessica Meyer, along with their daughter, Alexis (left), attend the signing event for their transformative $1 million gift to the UNT TAMS program.
In a transformative move aimed at fostering excellence and expanding opportunities, Dr. Colin and Jessica Meyer have made a generous $1 million gift to the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS) at the University of North Texas (UNT). The Meyers' gift will support scholarships, outreach to rural areas and small towns, and facility improvements, with a primary focus on making education more accessible to deserving students.
TAMS at UNT is the nation's first early college entrance residential program for gifted high school aged students. If admitted into TAMS, students withdraw from their high schools and enter the world of university education at UNT, a Tier One research institution. Mentored by faculty at UNT, TAMS students tackle complex, real-world problems, working on solutions and breakthroughs in fields ranging from healthcare to energy consumption. TAMS at UNT serves as an important pipeline for STEM education, nurturing the next generation of innovators.
Colin Meyer is a 1997 TAMS graduate who went on to earn a B.S. in chemistry and a B.A. in biology from the University of Virginia, an M.D. from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and an M.B.A. from the Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business. Meyer joined biopharmaceutical company Reata Pharmaceuticals as its second employee in 2003, working to develop innovative therapies for patients with serious, life-threatening diseases. He led development of Skyclarys® (omaveloxolone), the first approved treatment for Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA), an inherited, debilitating and degenerative neuromuscular disorder.
In reflecting on his journey to the biopharmaceutical industry, Meyer emphasizes the importance of his educational journey to TAMS from his hometown of Granbury, Texas, where at the time there were limited academic resources. He notes that the dynamic and vibrant TAMS community highlighted the myriad opportunities available when surrounded by motivated, intelligent and diverse peers.
“I always wanted to go to medical school and excel in my career, and there were few opportunities to differentiate myself in my small home town,” Meyer says. “TAMS set me apart and pointed me down a great path with the help of many different and brilliant people.”
Now with their own daughter enrolled and succeeding in TAMS, the Meyers’ pride extends to the next generation benefiting from the program’s transformative impact. As their family continues to experience the shared commitment to excellence that defines TAMS, they have cultivated even deeper gratitude for the program’s role in shaping their lives.
Committed to giving back, the Meyers aim to address the program’s unique needs and support both current and future students. With a focus on immediate impact, they have chosen to make their gift available now instead of through an endowment, directing the entire donation toward addressing current needs and enhancing the TAMS experience.
"We want to enable students from small towns like me, those who will excel in a rigorous program, to find TAMS and have the financial support they need to attend and succeed,” Meyer says.
In addition to providing scholarships to alleviate financial burdens and supporting outreach to rural areas that will raise awareness about TAMS, the donation will support facility improvements in McConnell Hall. Renovations to the building will enrich the student experience, creating an inviting and technologically advanced space for collaboration and interaction. The Meyers hope updating the facility will attract new students, inspire creativity and showcase the successes of alumni.
“We want McConnell Hall to be vibrant and inviting," says Jessica Meyer. “Really adding technology and making it look more like a place that supports math and science.”
Dean of TAMS, Glenisson de Oliveira, applauds the Meyers' commitment to supporting students and enhancing the TAMS experience.
"This extraordinary contribution will serve as a cornerstone for the sustained provision of a world-class education to bright and motivated students,” says Dean De Oliveira. “The gift aligns seamlessly with our commitment to cultivating a diverse and intellectually vibrant community at TAMS. By fostering an inclusive environment, we can ensure that deserving students, regardless of their financial background, have the opportunity to access an exceptional education that propels them toward academic excellence and future success.”
UNT President Neal Smatresk commends the Meyers for their dedication to education and believes the gift aligns with UNT's commitment to fostering innovation and excellence.
"The Meyers' generous commitment not only invests in the future of TAMS but aligns with UNT's broader vision,” UNT President Neal Smatresk says. “This gift supports scholarships, outreach initiatives and facility improvements, and it will advance our mission of providing an enriching educational experience. Their forward-thinking support is a catalyst for growth, expanding opportunities for students and reinforcing our commitment to empowering the next generation of leaders."
The Meyers' gift reflects a broader vision of impacting humanity through education and emphasizes the importance of inspiring students to recognize the broad influence they can have in their careers. They aspire for their contribution to not only offer immediate assistance to TAMS students but also inspire a ripple effect of future philanthropy. Their hope is that TAMS alumni will unite in advancing the mission of TAMS and UNT, forging a legacy of giving that transcends generations and propels the institutions to new heights.