Singer Ray Charles Donates $1 Million To Dillard University

Singer Ray Charles Donates $1 Million To Dillard University

NEW ORLEANS
Singer Ray Charles donated $1 million to Dillard University last month to create an endowed chair and program in African American material culture.
The program will be designed to study music, food and other African American traditions. It will involve preserving recipes, music and folklore handed down from generations, in order to yield a concentrated study and analysis of other parts of African American traditional culture.
“Dillard University is in a unique position to craft an academic study of the culinary arts and music in a cultural context. This is just a starting point for detailed study and preservation of this and other parts of traditional African American life,” says Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president of the university.
“I’m excited about this endowed chair being here in New Orleans,” says Danille Taylor, dean of humanities. “I think that it is something we should build on as an institution — preserving some of the uniqueness that is right here.”
Initially, administrators will engage in planning the structure of the program, building the curriculum and implementing a process for faculty and student research. Officials plan to leverage the $1 million gift to secure additional funds from the State of Louisiana Board of Regents for faculty development. The funds will also support academic programming and community outreach.
Charles received an honorary degree in May from Dillard, a private, predominantly Black school associated with the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ. The 73-year-old singer donated the money in the name of the Robinson Foundation for Hearing Disorders, a laboratory he founded in 1987 for the treatment and research of hearing problems.



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