Fayetteville State University on Friday announced it has received a historic gift of $5.8 million to support key initiatives.
It is the largest single private donation in the school’s history. The previous largest gift was $1.5 million, which came in 2016.
“Today, I’m happy to announce new history," Chancellor Darrell Allison said during a news conference at the Charles W. Chesnutt Library on campus.
The $1.57 million in philanthropic support last year, along with other fundraising donations and Friday’s announcement will bring overall gifts and donations to nearly $8 million by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, the university said.
College staff, local and state leaders, members of the business community, students and reporters were among those present for the announcement.
“It’s historical,” Allison said of the gift. “I’m so happy that we have the leadership here at Fayetteville State University. Many of y'all are here to be a part of this because that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Our students are standing here because that’s where the focus should be.”
The $5.8 million gift came from Anonymous Trust, which was created to serve rural and underserved communities in Eastern North Carolina. FSU said the money will help it advance the university’s goals of “recruiting, retaining and graduating our talented students regardless of their circumstances.’’
Before discussing the historic gift, Allison talked about the college’s history dating back to the seven men who founded what would become Fayetteville State two years after the Civil War with what he called “a robust $136.”
It’s all the money those men could muster, and Allison named them all for the benefit of those in attendance. It’s not only to remember the names, he said, but the context of their time in history and how they came together for the better good.
“It is their, what I call, their great crazy faith,’’ the chancellor said. “They weren’t thinking about the students in this area. About trade school. They were thinking about higher education. Another level for students who, in this case, looked like you and me.
“I’m always reminded of the rich history here at Fayetteville State University,” Allison said.
FSU is the second-oldest public university in the state, having been established in 1867.
Allison thanked members of the local legislative delegation, who he said “put it all on the line for us” in helping Fayetteville State acquire $164 million in state support in the latest budget.
That, he said, is the largest amount of funding that FSU has ever received.
Allison said the money from the Anonymous Trust will support FSU’s free summer school initiative as part of a program to keep students on track to earn their degree in four years or less. The funding also will provide tuition, room, board and books at no cost for more than 900 students each year over the summer from 2022 to 2024.
The impact of the $5.8 million — which will be provided over three years — will increase student retention and graduation rates and graduation efficiency rates, the school has said.
It will be used to support the Bronco Boost program, which is an on-campus summer transition program for incoming first-year and transfer students. The program focuses on students from Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties in Eastern North Carolina. Its key features include two academic courses prior to the start of the first fall semester, life skills mentoring and financial literacy instruction.
Other areas of the university that will utilize the money include opportunity scholarships, minority male initiative support and FSU’s College of Education Reading Clinic, the school said.
"We are glad to be here this morning," said Margaret Turlington, a representative with Anonymous Trust.
"The reason we are here is as a partner with other organizations that care about Eastern North Carolina. And empowering our future residents of Eastern North Carolina. In fact, the state is doing that not only with Bronco Boost and other programs. They are partnering as you see with businesses, the military, the schools to bring success to North Carolina."
Turlington said they were proud to partner with the next generation of students from this part of the state.
Since its inception, a primary tenet of Anonymous Trust is that all children deserve access to quality education, and educators deserve access to the opportunities often only afforded to teachers in urban districts, FSU said.
“The partnership with Anonymous Trust came about with another partner,” Allison said. “Through that partnership, we were able to form this partnership. They are very generous with their resources. It just resonated. No doubt we have formed a partnership that is going to last for students for generations to come at Fayetteville State University.”
Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.