Now Reading
$100 million new gift to MSU from George and Kathy Bishop
Dark Light

$100 million new gift to MSU from George and Kathy Bishop

An individual $100 million donation helped Mississippi State University raise nearly $260 million in fiscal year 2023, surpassing all previous single-year fundraising records among the state’s public institutions of higher education.

The university marked its 10th straight year of receiving $100 million or more in gifts and achieved $259.9 million in the last fiscal year.

“This unprecedented level of support for Mississippi State University is an extraordinary investment in the people and communities we serve. We are proud to have earned the faith and trust of our friends and alumni who recognize how we are taking care of what matters and who also know we will be good stewards of their gifts,” MSU President Mark E. Keenum said.

A $100 million pledge from Texas oil and gas billionaires George and Kathy Bishop, who established MSU’s George Bishop Family Endowed Scholarship to provide financial aid to students across all fields of study, is believed to be the largest single gift to a university in state history.

The scholarship aims to expand opportunities to students often overlooked for substantial scholarships, MSU officials said. The scholarship gives preference to Mississippi students.

“The donation heightens MSU’s stature as one of the nation’s few four-year public universities to receive a nine-figure private gift and will greatly increase the number of awards available to students across the university in the coming years,” according to MSU’s release.

According to public records, as of this year, there have been five gifts to institutions of higher learning of $1 billion or more, led by $1.8 billion from Michael Bloomberg in 2018 to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins.

Many of the largest gifts have gone to the nation’s elite private universities, often in the Ivy League. It’s clear that the $100 million ranks among the largest-ever Southern gifts. Here’s a look at some of the largest gifts in the South, according to reports:

In 2002, the Walton Family Foundation donated $300 million to the University of Arkansas. The same foundation gave another $120 million to Arkansas in 2017.

Emory University in Atlanta received $295 million in 1996 from the Lettie Pate Evans, Joseph B. Whitehead, and Robert W. Woodruff Foundations. It also received a $261 million single gift in 2006.

Vanderbilt received a gift of $198 million in 1998.

Among other public universities in the current or future Southeastern Conference, the University of Texas in Austin received a $232 million gift in 2002. LSU received a $125 donation of oil and gas royalties in 1981.

The Chronicle did not report any institution in Alabama ever receiving $100 million or more.

John P. Rush, president and CEO of the MSU Foundation, said the state of Mississippi per capita is one of the most philanthropic states in the nation.

“George grew up very poor in rural Mississippi, near Raleigh, Mississippi, and he credits his education with Mississippi State being the springboard for his success,” Rush said. “About 10 years ago, George had a small gift for scholarships, giving a $10 million gift for scholarships.

As a result of the gift, he was impacted by how that was changing not only the students’ lives but their entire family dynamic going forward, which led George and his wife, Kathy, to make a significant $100 million gift to grow their endowment scholarships.”

While the Bishops’ gift was by far the most transformative, it was one of more than 20,000 individual donations that led the historic MSU achievement for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

“We are tremendously grateful for the incredible outpouring of support from our alumni and friends who have enabled us to realize this historic fundraising achievement,” Rush said. “Their philanthropic spirit and dedication to our mission are driving forces behind our continued growth and impact.”

Keenum said the unprecedented support for Mississippi State University is an investment in the people and communities the university serves.

“These gifts will positively impact our state for generations to come as more Mississippians gain access to scholarships, campus resources and hands-on education, research and service opportunities, enabling more students to pursue and earn their degrees, compete for future jobs, and serve their communities,” Keenum said “I am so grateful to the Mississippi State family for supporting our university and our work.”

According to MSU, the support enabled more than 5,000 private scholarships amounting to more than $11 million to be awarded to students in the fiscal year of 2023. Gifts supporting scholarships include additional Loyalty and Legacy Scholarships and funds for the MSU Compass Scholars program.

More specific awards include the Coach Mike Leach Endowed Scholarship, created in memory of the late MSU football and other benefitting areas such as engineering, industrial technology, agriculture, creative and performing arts and business.

© 2024 Lifestyles Magazine International. All Rights Reserved.