Alcorn State First to Receive Endowment Money From Ayers Settlement

JACKSON, Miss.

Alcorn State University has received $1.7 million in endowment money as
part of the settlement of Mississippi’s college desegregation lawsuit.

The state College Board approved the distribution last week.

Alcorn, one of three historically Black universities in Mississippi,
earlier received $1.4 million, its 28 percent share of $5 million
allocated to the publicly funded endowment.

Officials said it would soon receive its 28 percent share of $1 million
in a privately funded endowment. This disbursement was the first time
endowment funds were allocated to any of the schools.

Alcorn became eligible for the funds this year, its third year in a row with a non-Black enrollment of more than 10 percent.

Settlement of the case provided that Alcorn, Jackson State University
and Mississippi Valley State University would each get a portion of
what will one day be a $70 million publicly funded endowment once they
sustain 10 percent non-Black enrollment for three consecutive years.

Jackson State and Mississippi Valley have not reached that mark.

The separate, privately funded endowment that is supposed to reach $35
million has $1 million in it now. It will be distributed in the same
manner.

The late Jake Ayers Sr. filed a lawsuit against the state’s university
system in 1975, citing inequitable funding for the state’s three
predominantly Black universities. A settlement was finally approved
last year when appeals were exhausted.

Alcorn, Jackson State and Mississippi Valley will share a total of $503
million. Besides the endowments, they will get $246 million for
academic programs and $75 million for facilities.

Alcorn president Clinton Bristow said aggressive recruiting in and
around Natchez, where Alcorn has a campus, increased the university’s
diversity. The university recruits heavily at nearby Copiah-Lincoln
Community College and at Hinds Community College’s Raymond campus, he
said.

Out-of-state recruiting — including from Russia — also has helped, he said.

Between 1994 and 2004, Alcorn’s non-Black enrollment went from 6.7
percent to 10.5 percent, according to state College Board figures.
Jackson State’s is about 7 percent, and Mississippi Valley’s is about 6
percent.

The $1.7 million from the endowments cannot be spent. The schools can
spend only the interest on future diversity efforts and to enhance
academic programs, according to the settlement.

Bristow said that fits well with his plans of making Alcorn, whose main
campus is at Lorman, more of a regional university in southwest
Mississippi, while keeping its status as a historically Black school.

— Associated Press



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