The commitment marks the largest gift to a higher education institution in the Magnolia State’s history and is among the largest contributions designated solely for scholarship support made to any university in the world. It also heightens MSU’s stature as one of the nation’s few four-year public universities to receive a nine-figure private gift.
Furthermore, the gift builds on the Texas couple’s past support for scholarships—namely the George Bishop Family Endowed Scholarship, established by a $10 million commitment from the Bishops in 2018. With a collective investment of $110 million, the George Bishop Family Endowed Scholarship will further secure MSU’s role as a vibrant hub for scholarship and learning.
“Today is a truly historic day for Mississippi State University and the entire state of Mississippi as we celebrate this transformational gift that will change the lives of generations of students, their families, and their communities. This unprecedented investment in our students by George and Kathy Bishop reflects their visionary understanding of the power of higher education and their appreciation for the life-changing work we are doing at Mississippi State,” MSU President Mark E. Keenum said.
“Our university has been making a difference here at home and around the world for more than 145 years by providing students with an exceptional education and unmatched service opportunities, and the Bishops’ gift will ensure that many more young people will be able to pursue and attain a college degree, compete for the jobs of the future, and serve their communities. We are indeed blessed that George and Kathy are part of our Mississippi State family and thankful for all of their many contributions to our university,” he said.
A native of Smith County, Bishop earned a degree in petroleum geology from the land-grant institution in 1958. He led a successful early career in the oil and gas industry in Louisiana and Texas before founding GeoSouthern Energy in 1981, which grew to become one of the largest, privately held producers of oil and gas in the country.
A former member of the MSU Foundation’s board of directors, Bishop was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from MSU in 2019 in honor of his lifetime achievements. He and Kathy have been generous benefactors of the university since 2015.
“Mississippi State opened many doors for me and gave me the foundation I needed to be successful. So, when the opportunity arrived for me to be able to give back to the place that’s been so influential for me and many others, it just felt right,” said Bishop. “It’s a blessing to help people, and I especially want to help students that have the desire to work but don’t have the funds to accomplish their goals on their own.”
The George Bishop Family Endowed Scholarship provides university-wide support to recruit and retain ambitious students from all disciplines. It also serves to expand opportunities to students who are often overlooked for substantial scholarships and gives preference to Mississippi students.
“This historic gift is a testament to George’s extraordinary philanthropic vision, as well as his belief in Mississippi State University, our students and the unique role our institution has in shaping and strengthening the welfare and future of society,” said John Rush, MSU vice president for development and alumni. “Scholarships break down barriers and increase accessibility for more students to get an education—but the impact doesn’t end there. The support of a scholarship award can change the trajectory of a student’s life, and the positive ripple effect it creates for their family and the communities they serve is immeasurable.”
He continued, “Since our founding in 1878, Mississippi State University has been focused on taking care of what matters. This gift allows us to continue building on that rich tradition and expand the impact of our land-grant mission on a greater scale. For that, we are immensely grateful to George and Kathy Bishop.”
Currently, 97 students have benefited from the Bishops’ scholarship investments at MSU. The significant increase in support will enable the George Bishop Family Endowed Scholarship to provide far greater assistance for MSU students each year, further cementing the family’s meaningful legacy at the university.
“I’m most proud of the fact that all my success doesn’t really make a difference to me,” said Bishop, who enjoys corresponding with his scholarship recipients. “I came from nothing, but you have to believe and know you’re blessed to accomplish great things. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, and more so for what’s been done for me along the way.”