Jeff and Sydney Shellebarger
To this day, Jeff (BS ’78, MS ’80) and Sydney (BSHE ’79) Shellebarger, describe their time at the University of Georgia as an invaluable learning experience.
“We have used what we’ve learned [at the University of Georgia] to raise our family, help our community, and pursue successful work careers,” said Jeff. “We’re proud alumni; the university has a great and growing reputation. Plus, we each met our life partners – that was a bonus.”
Jeff and Sydney met during a party in their University of Georgia residence hall in the late 1970s, and it was love at first sight.
“I was a freshman; he was a sophomore. We dated throughout college,” Sydney said. “Our experiences were intertwined, and even after leaving UGA more than 35 years ago, we remain friends with many of our peers.”
After graduation, Jeff and Sydney embarked on a journey that followed Jeff’s career with global energy company Chevron across the United States, Africa and finally, Indonesia. Sydney’s first job at the College of Family and Consumer Sciences’ McPhaul Center in Athens drove her to advocate for children wherever the couple traveled.
The couple relocated to Houston a few years ago, where Jeff is now president of Chevron’s North American exploration and production operations. Returning to the U.S. spurred the Shellebargers to review their long-term giving priorities and identify the organizations they wanted to include.
“I always wanted to give back to the university,” Jeff says. “We specifically wanted to help the department of geology attract quality professors and students. We weren’t sure what that [support] looked like, but UGA’s development staff helped us develop a plan that made the most of our contributions and aligned with the goals we set.”
The plan included contributions to support new geology faculty, to endow the Shellebarger Professorship in Geology—the first professorship for the department—and to provide annual funds for the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
“We owe a deep debt of gratitude to the professors, departments and the university, and we will enjoy watching the university continue to grow and hope that our gifts will help in that success.”
Jeff also connected UGA with Chevron, which has now funded two graduate assistantships and sponsored five students to participate in the Imperial Barrel Award competition, an annual competition for geoscience students from around the world.
“Funding from Chevron will allow us to recruit high-caliber graduate students to work on research related to energy resources,” says Douglas Crowe, head of the geology department. “We face enormous challenges to find and produce sufficient energy to allow society to grow and prosper, and this partnership is a step in the right direction.”
Supporting their alma mater is an important commitment for the Shellebargers.
“We owe a deep debt of gratitude to the professors, departments and the university,” Jeff says. “And we will enjoy watching the university continue to grow and hope that our gifts will help in that success.”