SUNO commencement speaker announces a surprise gift of $100,000 for scholarshipsAt Southern University at New Orleans' commencement Saturday (May 10), the principal speaker had more to deliver than a speech.
Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, announced a $100,000 donation to the school to be used for scholarships.
"We all know that getting to college is half the battle," he said.
Taylor's announcement came at a critical time, SUNO Chancellor Victor Ukpolo said, because many students are still suffering from the financial and emotional impacts of Hurricane Katrina, even though it struck nearly nine years ago.
The gift, Ukpolo said, "will help those students faced with financial challenges complete their college education and achieve their career goals."
The Thurgood Marshall Fund, named for the U.S. Supreme Court's first African-American justice, represents nearly 300,000 students attending SUNO and the country's 46 other public, historically black colleges and universities.
At SUNO's commencement, 498 students received diplomas.
This wasn't the only gift that SUNO announced during the weekend. The Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention gave $10,000 to help 65 first-time freshmen who were admitted in 2011 and 2012. Because many SUNO students have work and family obligations, this grant will help them meet those expenses and stay in school, SUNO spokeswoman Tammy Barney said.
The organization was founded in 1897 by African-American Baptists who were committed to worldwide evangelical work, especially in Africa.