On the surface, Suzanne Perot McGee and Priscilla Call Craven didn’t have much in common when they enrolled at Vanderbilt 28 years ago. McGee, BS’86, the daughter of plain-spoken Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot, was an elementary education major. Craven, BA’86, the granddaughter of noted American art critic and author Thomas Craven, was an art history major.
But the two have been good friends since their Vanderbilt days. When they returned to Vanderbilt for their 20th class reunion in 2006, Craven, who now teaches Italian and art history courses at the University of Colorado, proposed a toast to celebrate the fact that she recently had paid off the last of her college loans. Besides her Vanderbilt undergraduate degree, she also had earned a master of arts degree in language from Middlebury College and a master of arts degree in art history from the University of Colorado.
“Priscilla has always been so full of inner joy, and a great listener,” McGee says of her friend. “When we were students, I always knew how thankful she was to be at Vanderbilt. She was on financial aid and had to work hard not only during the school year but during the summer.”
The fact that it had taken her friend 20 years to pay off her college loans made an impression on McGee—so much so that she made a decision to fund a need-based scholarship. The Priscilla Call Craven Scholarship, established in 2006 with a gift of $1.5 million, provides much-needed support to deserving undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Science and Peabody College, with preference given to incoming freshmen who have an interest in the humanities.
The Perot family has gifted Vanderbilt with both its financial support and its active involvement for many years. Suzanne’s husband, Patrick McGee Sr., BS’85, is currently fundraising chair for the Class of 1985’s 25th reunion. Three of Suzanne’s siblings also graduated from Vanderbilt—Henry Ross Perot Jr., BA’81; Nancy Perot Mulford, BA’82; and Carolyn Perot Rathjen, BA’90. Henry Ross Perot III just completed his B.A. in history last spring, and two other Perot family members are current students—Sarah Perot and Ross Mulford Jr.