New Hazel–Peterson Scholarship will support undergraduate students in the Costello College of Business


A new Hazel–Peterson Scholarship fund has been established in the name of the Hazel and Peterson families to support undergraduate students pursuing a minor in real estate development at the Costello College of Business of George Mason University.

Jimmy and Til Hazel with Milt Peterson at groundbreaking
Jimmy Hazel, John T. "Til" Hazel Jr. and Milt Peterson at the ground-breaking in 2015 for an academic building that would be named Peterson Family Health Sciences Hall. Photo by Office of University Branding

“The best institutions in the future will be those that are well positioned to make education available to as many people as possible,” said George Mason President Gregory Washington. “Nicole and I want to help make this life-changing opportunity available to more young people. To do so not only benefits George Mason but the entire metropolitan region ­and the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Washington and Presidential Partner Nicole Washington have donated $25,000 to seed the scholarship, which was matched 2 to 1 by S&P Global, the New York City-based capital market company, bringing the total of the scholarship fund to $75,000 by January 2024.

The George Mason University Foundation manages the fund and hopes to grow it to at least $200,000 to provide lasting and perpetual support for scholarships in the Costello College of Business.

Three Hazel–Peterson Scholarships for $2,500 each are expected to be available this fall.

Recipients must be full- or part-time undergraduate students who graduated from a Northern Virginia high school located within 50 miles of the university’s Fairfax Campus and have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Funds will be awarded by a selection committee appointed by the dean of the Costello College of Business in coordination with the Office of Student Financial Aid. This scholarship is renewable.

This HazelPeterson Scholarship recognizes the longstanding dedication and commitment to the university and region by these two families.

Business partners for 20 years, late family patriarchs Milt Peterson and John “Til” Hazel Jr. set the stage for George Mason’s rise to prominence with a shared affinity for the university and a vision that has been passed on to their offspring.

“What Dad and Milt did over the years was something, and seeing the second generation carrying it to new levels has been kind of fun,” said Jimmy Hazel, a local businessman who grew up close to George Mason’s Fairfax Campus and has served on George Mason’s Board of Visitors for 16 years.

Jon Peterson said that his father and Til Hazel would be proud of George Mason’s upward trajectory.

“George Mason has always been such a big part of Northern Virginia,” Jon Peterson said. “As Northern Virginia has grown, so has Mason. It’s been great to see.”

A prominent Virginia lawyer and later developer, Til Hazel is considered one of the university’s founding fathers after acquiring land and lobbying for a school of law in Arlington. He was the recipient of the first Mason Medal in 1987, the university’s highest honorary award for those with a record of service to their community or nation. His brother William A. Hazel was one of Northern Virginia’s most influential builders and was also instrumental in the development and growth of the university, establishing the Eleanor and Bill Hazel Endowed Chair in Civil Infrastructure Engineering in the Volgenau School of Engineering in 2014.

Jimmy Hazel is a proud Scalia Law School graduate with decades of service to the university including the Board of Visitors, 12 years on the George Mason University Foundation Board, and a stint as the Alumni Association president. Also a recipient of the Mason Medal in 2017, the former George Mason Alumnus of the Year chaired the successful Faster Farther comprehensive campaign that closed with more than $690 million. He and his wife, Sally, established the Hazel Scholars Endowment Fund in 2011, which is now valued at roughly $1.2 million.

The Peterson Family has also given generously to the university and the Northern Virginia community through the Peterson Family Foundation, which was established by Milt and Carolyn in 1997. Through the foundation, the family has supported multiple causes, including health care, education, youth development, and the United Methodist Church, contributing more than $100 million to charity.

In June 2016, the Peterson Family provided $10 million to support the new academic building for what is now the College of Public Health, as well as funding for the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Now a CEO of Peterson Companies and chairman of the company’s executive committee, Jon Peterson first served on George Mason’s Board of Visitors from 2014 to 2018, and will conclude his second four-year term this year.

“If you’re fortunate enough to be able to give back, you do,” Jon Peterson said.

The scholarship is now accepting applications in the Blackbaud Award Management scholarship portal.

The Hazel and Peterson families hope to see the scholarship grow so that it might provide more opportunities for students.