Microsoft chairman gifts FAMU $5 million

Mangum leads in 1890 land grant university quest for dollars

TALLAHASSEE — Florida A & M University received the largest single donation in its 127-year history from alumnus Microsoft Chairman John W. Thompson and his wife Sandi.  The $5 million will provide scholarships to high performing students from low wealth families.

“There is a dearth of talented people of color in the tech industry.  Anything I can do is in my company and my industry’s best interest,” said Thompson while discussing the need for diversity in the new economy.

The President’s Academic Progress and Readiness Fund will provide financial assistance to students who are creative and show promise as entrepreneurs. FAMU President Elmira Mangum said the gift would also reduce student debt, which is an enormous burden upon graduation.

“I am primarily interested in those who will do well when they get to college.  We want to give them grants so they won’t have to take out so many loans,” averred Mangum.

Mangum has focused on what she sees as the most debilitating threats to FAMU and historically black universities: the lack of financial resources exacerbated by the expense of a quality education.

The tuition factor puts a college education out of reach for an increasing number of students every semester. The Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities gathered in Orlando to find solutions to the crisis. Land grant universities like FAMU were established more than 120 years ago to level the field for access to a higher education for students without means. The poor. Because financial resources are shrinking, staying true to that mission has become more difficult.

Mangum presided over the APLU discussion on ways to improve the federal government partnership and the need to increase access for students who would otherwise never receive a college education. Resolving the student’s high cost of living expenses and increasing graduation rates is also a nagging problem.

FAMU’s new president is addressing those issues successfully but believes that land grant institutions must forge new partnerships that will deliver the necessary financial resources to complete the mission. Her alternative path is clearly working with the help of alumnus John W. Thompson and initiatives like“10 for 10” by popular alumnus Checka Rose Green who has jumped started alumni rededication that will push Rattlers forward.

Mangum continues to pursue an aggressive global strategy that enhances the university status as a respected STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics) institution. Not only is FAMU ranked as one of the most affordable institutions in the nation, its online program is ranked among the most affordable in Florida.

FAMU’s is the nation’s number one public HBCU according to US News & World Report.

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