Kenai Peninsula College announced Wednesday that it received the largest donation in the college’s history — more than $1.6 million — through the estate of Jean Brockel, a longtime KPC educator and widow of the college’s founding director.
Gary Turner, who is the outgoing director of KPC, told the Clarion on Thursday that it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“It’s an amazing gift, and the largest in our college’s history,” Turner said. “I loved the Brockels and miss them both still. We’d go to each other’s houses for dinner, and Clayton (Brockel) was my mentor when I first stepped into my role as director.”
Jean Brockel died in the summer of 2019, having survived her husband Clayton, who died in 2013, and their son John, who died in 2008. The executor of the Jean Brockel estate is Mike Morgan, who knew the Brockels well and has taught at KPC on and off since the early ‘90s. Morgan said Thursday that Jean had specified in her will that two-thirds of her estate go to the two scholarship funds created by her and her family.
“There was no one who Jean felt deserved that money more than the current and future students of KPC,” Morgan said.
Morgan said that John Brockel, who died suddenly in his 40s, was largely responsible for amassing the family’s initial fortune, taking over the family’s commercial fishing business at a young age and expanding it. After John’s death, Morgan said, the Brockels sat on the estate and let it grow, which it did significantly until Jean’s death in 2019.
“In many ways, John planted the seeds of this fortune, and then Clayton and Jean were patient and allowed the crops to grow,” Morgan said. “Now it can be harvested for the benefit of the next generation of students.”
The Brockels have contributed in other ways to KPC in the past, including through the donation of several parcels of land valued at about $587,000. In total, the Brockels have contributed $2,593,307 to the college, according to the press release.
The funds will be divided between two preexisting scholarship funds: the Brockel Family Scholarship Endowment and the John C. Brockel Scholarship Endowment. The former is intended for students in the humanities, fine arts and performing arts, according to a Jan. 12 press release from the college. At KPC, those areas of studies include but are not limited to: art, anthropology, communications, English, history, mathematics, general studies, Alaska Native studies and psychology.
The latter is a scholarship fund targeted to students studying for a particular profession or craft, which includes but is not limited to: accounting, biology, business, nursing, chemistry, corrections, early childhood development education, firefighter preparation, fisheries technology, human services, marine biology, natural sciences, paramedicine, process technology, industrial process instrumentation, petroleum technology and welding.
Turner said that the two scholarships cover nearly all of the courses available at KPC. A student who receives one of these scholarships will receive $2,500 per semester. With tuition costing about $271 per credit after fees, the scholarship could potentially cover the cost of about nine credits per semester. A student taking at least 12 credits in a semester is considered full-time, but about 80% of KPC’s enrollment includes “nontraditional” students, which Turner said includes adult students and part-time students.
Both full-time and part-time students can benefit from the two scholarship programs, Turner said. A full-time student would have the majority of their tuition for the semester covered, and a student taking fewer than nine credits could use the remainder for books, housing or other expenses. Morgan said that the funds will be available for the fall 2021 semester, and that KPC administration is working to make the funds available for this spring as well.
“If you’re considering taking any classes at all, I highly encourage you to take a look at these scholarships,” Morgan said. “A lot of people around here might be considering it after losing their job or their hours. This money gives those people the opportunity.”
Students interested in learning more about these scholarships should contact KPC’s Financial Aid office at email@example.com or call 907-262-0332.
Reach reporter Brian Mazurek at firstname.lastname@example.org.