Two more HBCUs net millions from philanthropist Scott

The novelist and ex-wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos rewards Morgan State and Elizabeth City State universities with huge gifts.
By: | December 15, 2020
Photo courtesy of Morgan State University

Novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who made six huge donations to Historically Black Colleges and Universities this summer, has targeted two more higher education institutions in another round of gift giving during the holiday season.

On Tuesday, Morgan State University announced it had received a $40 million donation from Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, while Elizabeth City State University received $15 million – the largest single private donations that either university had  ever received.

Scott has given away more than $4 billion over the past few months to 384 groups in a mission to “give the majority of my wealth back to the society that helped generate it.”

That has included huge gifts to those HBCUs – Hampton University ($30M), Howard University ($40M), Tuskegee University ($20 million); and undisclosed amounts to Xavier University of Louisiana, Spelman College and Morehouse College.

The $40 million donation to Morgan State was the second largest to any public higher education institution in Maryland, according to the university. It said it was chosen in part because of its “success in addressing racial justice, equity and equality, and nationwide educational attainment gaps.”

“This monumental gift will change lives and shape futures,” Morgan State president David Morgan said. “I thank Ms. Scott for her due diligence and acknowledgement of the substantive value Morgan offers to so many throughout this nation and around the world, and entrusting that we will ensure the enduring impact of her generosity is truly transformational for many years to come. Morgan’s dedication to improving the lives of the communities we serve is highly regarded. The receipt of this gift is clear evidence that the rest of the world is also taking notice in Morgan too.”

The timing couldn’t have been better for Morgan State as it seeks to become first HBCU to achieve highest research status. It says the majority of the gift will go to strategic planning and will double its “Leading the World Endowment Fund” to support academics, students and faculty.

At Elizabeth City State, a small 130-year-old HBCU located in North Carolina, the donation will be transformative as it seeks to boost academic and student experiences and support faculty development and athletics.

“Thanks to Ms. Scott’s gift, this affords us the opportunity to improve the institution’s financial footing for long-term stability,” Chancellor Karrie Dixon said. “We also will invest in innovative priorities and respond to opportunities that our limited resources and restricted budgets do not allow.”