“I grew up with George Mason,” Jimmy Hazel, JD ’84, says, and he means it literally. The chair of the George Mason University Foundation Board of Trustees was speaking to a room packed with Mason supporters who had come together during Homecoming Week for the dedication of the James W. Hazel Conference Room in Merten Hall on the Fairfax Campus.
Hazel’s family, which helped to found the university, remains legendary around Fairfax, and his childhood home was just a short distance from where the campus started. “I remember going out on University Drive one time when I was a teenager, and I held the stepladder while my dad pruned the trees,” Hazel recalls. “He wasn’t satisfied with the way they looked,” so the elder Hazel—Jimmy’s father, Til—just went and did it himself.
Lesson learned. After gaining his law degree from Mason, Hazel helped form a lobbying firm and eventually became a key advisor in the Warner administration. A lifelong outdoorsman, he then founded Angler Environmental, one of the region’s top environmental consultants. The former Mason Alumnus of the Year and his wife, Sally, established the Hazel Scholars Endowment Fund in 2011 with a gift of $2 million.
“I thank my Dad in particular because he instilled in me and in my siblings a belief that if you’re going to be part of a community, you need to dedicate yourself to making the community better than when you found it,” Hazel told friends and family at the February 11 ceremony. “I chose to do that at George Mason, and it’s been a real pleasure to do that over the years.”