Retired MSU couple establish new scholarship

Contact: Paige Watson

Douglas Crawford and Leigh Jensen-Crawford (Photo by Paige Watson)

STARKVILLE, Miss. —A Starkville couple, both Mississippi State retirees, are making a lasting impact on the lives of MSU students.   

Douglas Crawford and Leigh Jensen-Crawford have established two MSU academic scholarships, each in honor of friends and mentors who impacted them during their university careers.

The Crawfords recently established the Dr. Leanne H. Fazio Memorial Endowed Scholarship in the Department of Music in honor of their friend. The new scholarship is designated specifically for students majoring in music with an emphasis in piano.

“Dr. Fazio was an incredible musician with a heart for her family, friends, colleagues and students. She was very student-focused and a gifted teacher; she cared for others and lived her life with integrity and intention,” said Jensen-Crawford. 

Fazio taught for more than three decades in the MSU Department of Music and performed regularly with friends and colleagues on campus, in the community, and throughout the Southeast, playing the harpsicord, piano and organ—her principal instrument.

The Crawfords earlier established the Dr. Donald W. Emerich Endowed Scholarship for students in the MSU Department of Chemistry.

The Crawfords both were scholarship recipients as they completed their undergraduate degrees from Hiram College and Middle Tennessee State University, respectively.

As Douglas Crawford toured southeastern universities to begin working on his master’s degree, he knew when he interviewed with Emerich in MSU’s chemistry department that he had “found the right academic program.”  He completed his master’s degree in chemistry, working with Emerich as his mentor.

“Dr. Emerich was like a second father to me, and I appreciate what he did for me and for so many others,” Crawford said.

The late Emerich’s career spanned 32 years on the MSU faculty, including serving as chemistry department head.  

Leigh Jensen-Crawford’s career at MSU began after receiving her master’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. She worked as a counselor at the MSU Counseling Center beginning in 1986, and received her Ph.D. from the University of Alabama in 1993. She was named director of MSU Student Counseling Services in 2010, a job she held until retirement in 2016. She also wrote several grants on prevention of violence against women on campus and initiated and implemented the Sexual Assault Services Program at MSU in 1994.

The Crawfords agree that each of their scholarship namesakes were gifted and creative, instilling their love of Starkville and MSU through their lives and work.

 “These scholarships are one way to honor our dear friends and keep their legacies alive on campus,” Crawford said.

“To me, these gifts are an investment in the future—our students,” said Jensen-Crawford.

Crawford said that it is gratifying to be able to honor their friends and colleagues through these student scholarships. He added that for many students, affording secondary education is difficult, and scholarships can provide support for their future. 

The Crawfords hope that student recipients will give back to Mississippi through their work in the state, and that by investing in students’ educational opportunities, Mississippi, Starkville and MSU will benefit. Their endowments serve as a way to invest in MSU long-term and make a difference to many students over the coming years.

Endowments for scholarships may be established through the MSU Foundation with gifts or pledges of $25,000 or more and may be increased indefinitely through additional contributions. 

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