Writer and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has given $50 million to Prairie View A&M University to be used at the discretion of the President to support the needs of the university.
Ruth J. Simmons, President of Prairie View, commented, “This is a historic gift for Prairie View, coming at a time when the University had already decided and begun to invest heavily in key areas to strengthen its academic programs and improve student success. The timing of this gift could therefore not be better.”
University administrators chose to designate $10 million of the total to create the Panther Success Grant Program an effort to assist juniors and seniors with unpaid balances created by the financial challenges posed by Covid-19.
Those funds remain designated for financial aid and will continue to be disbursed to students over the next several years, supplementing other forms of financial aid.
The University plans to allocate remaining funds to the university endowment to support high priority academic needs including endowed faculty positions, faculty recruitment and faculty development, improvements in academic areas, undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships.
With this substantial addition of funds, the University’s $95 million endowment will increase nearly 40% to almost $130 million, making it one of the largest endowments at a Historically Black College or University.
While many at the University, including the President, were surprised by the source and amount of the gift, Simmons had been in communication with the donor about a matter not involving Prairie View.
Over the course of those communications, the donor had given no hint that she was considering a gift to Prairie View until an unexpected telephone call from an assistant revealed this intention.
“I was stunned and, for a time speechless,” said Simmons. “At first I thought I had surely misheard the amount and I asked them to repeat it; they clarified that it would be ‘$50 (five zero) million.’” It is the largest gift in the University's 144-year history and follows a number of high-profile gifts in recent months.