Magee Fenn Scholarship Fund

Est. 2016 as an organization endowment by a transfer of assets to support the Yale University Women's Organization's Scholarship Programs.

Margaret “Magee” Fenn played basketball in bloomers and street hockey with the neighborhood boys and, though it was going to be a financial stretch, she was determined to get herself a college education.

She received scholarship funding and worked her way through the University of Kentucky in the 1920s, earning a master’s degree in college administration.

Working as assistant registrar at Kentucky’s Berea College, she met and married John Bennett Fenn as he pursued his Ph.D. at Yale. His research work in chemistry took them to London and Princeton. Wherever they were, Magee could be found volunteering in her children’s schools and in educational programs throughout her life.

Returning to Yale in the 1960s, John, a professor of applied science and chemistry by then, continued the research that would eventually win him a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Magee became immersed in the Yale University Women’s Organization (YUWO). She and her friend Kay Ross established a YUWO scholarship program for women associated with Yale whose educations were interrupted because they were raising a family or caring for a parent or establishing themselves in a new country - scholarships that would “give them a jumpstart back into their education,” says Barbara Reif, Magee’s daughter.

2020 Magee Fenn Scholar Stacey Bonet. Photo courtesy of Stacey Bonet

After Magee died suddenly in a car accident in 1992, her family designated that donations in her name be sent to YUWO. Friends and colleagues generously contributed memorial donations to help establish the fund. “When my father won the Nobel Prize a decade later, he used prize funds to endow the scholarship,” Barbara says. In 2016, the management of Magee Fenn scholarship fund assets was entrusted to The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, where the trust Fund now resides as a permanent organization endowment that supports the YUWO’s scholarship program in perpetuity.

Each year, Barbara attends the YUWO’s luncheon, presenting the award to the Magee Fenn Fund Scholar. “They are women who are working, going to school part-time, often raising a family, and some are single parents,” Barbara says. “They are really remarkable women. I feel so blessed to be part of it in my mother’s memory.”

One recipient of the Magee Fenn scholarship works as a curatorial assistant in the Yale Center for British Art, and she is pursuing her master’s in museum studies from Johns Hopkins University. She hopes to work in collections management. Financial constraints led to a six-year gap between earning her BFA and studying for her master’s. She couldn’t have pursued her master’s degree without the Magee Fenn scholarship as she notes that “in such a competitive field, obtaining a graduate degree is a crucial and necessary step in my career.”

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Magee Fenn Scholarship Fund