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Alcorn State First to Receive Endowment Money From Ayers Settlement

Alcorn State First to Receive Endowment Money From Ayers Settlement

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 month.

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 currently holds $1 million. 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. In addition to the endowments, they will get $246 million for academic programs and $75 million for facilities.

Alcorn president Dr. Clinton Bristow Jr. says 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 says.

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

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 says 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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