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Alcorn State University inherits $4.2 million from the legacy of Dr. Walter Washington

Alcorn State, MS (May 27, 2011) - Alcorn State University is pleased to announce that the United States Department of Education recently notified the University of the availability of $4.2 Million from the maturity of two $500,000 endowments made through its Title III Endowment Challenge Grant Program by the school’s 15th president, Dr. Walter Washington in 1986. Today, the endowments have matured to $2.125 million and $2.157 million respectfully.

Dr. Walter Washington was well known for his astute financial wisdom and foresight in steering the institution. Twenty-five years later, Alcorn is benefitting greatly from his prudent investments and financial guidance of the University he loved so dearly. The Endowment Challenge Grant Program was created in 1984 to provide institutional matching grants to eligible institutions to establish or increase endowment challenge funds, add incentives to promote fund-raising activities and to foster increased independence and self-sufficiency at those institutions.

Reflecting on the great leadership and stewardship of President Washington, Dr. M. Christopher Brown II, 18th president of Alcorn State University said, “Alcorn is deeply grateful to Dr. Walter Washington for his vision, generosity and trust in providing the opportunity for the University to use these funds today and in the future to create knowledge that will make a meaningful and lasting difference in the lives of others.” “His {Dr. Washington} legacy and the legacy of these endowments will immediately enable Alcorn to enhance our mission by strengthening and sustaining our commitment to academic excellence in these challenging economic times.”

Dr. Washington led Alcorn State during some of the most turbulent and transforming times in its history. Even with the limited resources received from the state, Dr. Washington ended every fiscal year budget in the black for the duration of his 25-year tenure (1969-1994). He continuously fought for equal funding, secured major public and private funds for improvements to the entire campus, including the construction of the James L. Bolden Student Union, Jack Spinks Stadium, and improved the living conditions of students, faculty and staff. By the early 1990s, Alcorn’s landscape had been dramatically transformed from the day Washington arrived and the University had grown and became more diverse. President Brown will soon appoint a senior leadership working group to develop a strategic plan on the use of the over 3.2 million dollar in earned income from the endowments. The committee will be responsible for developing a plan to reinvest the principal corpus and allocate the earned interest towards University priority programs and projects including strengthening financial goals and increasing student access to higher education.

“I’m heartened by the insight of Dr. Walter Washington 25 years ago to invest in the future of Alcorn State University,” a humble President Brown proclaimed. “Just as he was so resourceful and perceptive then, we must also be just as judicious in our work to steward these resources for our future. This investment will translate into tangible benefits not just for the Alcorn State University family, but for the state of Mississippi and help direct us to our greatest potential as a premier land-grant institution of higher learning.”

About Dr. Walter Washington 

A true innovator, Dr. Washington was the first African-American to earn a doctorate degree at the University of Southern Mississippi. He also held a bachelor’s degree from Tougaloo College, a master’s degree from Indiana University, an education specialist degree from Peabody College, a certificate in alcoholic studies from Yale University, and attended Harvard University's Institute for Educational Management in 1988. Washington also toured and studied the educational systems of Taiwan and seven African countries, sponsored by the Republic of China and Africa.

Dr. Washington received numerous awards and honors during his long and prolific career. He was named among Ebony Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Black Americans in 1974, 1975 and 1976. The Jackson Daily News panel recognized Dr. Washington as one of the 12 most influential Mississippians during the decade of the 70's. Washington hosted President George W. Bush as the keynote speaker for Alcorn's 118th Commencement in 1989. He received the Man of the Year Award, the Southern Region Outstanding Achievement Award, the Distinguished Educator's Award, the Distinguished Service Award, and the Southern Region Leadership Award from Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Total Living for Fifty Plus also selected him as Man of the Year in Education in 1981.