Anonymous donors make major impact with $1.1-million bequest

Starla Hampton

 The university recently received a $1.1 million anonymous gift from a hospitality management alumnus and his spouse that creates scholarship and academic opportunities for historically underrepresented students.

The bequest is four-fold, supporting departments within the university that hold special and personal meaning to the donors. First, funding will be increased for an existing endowed scholarship for students in The Collins College of Hospitality Management. This year’s scholarship recipient is 15-year chef and former culinary arts instructor Starla Hampton. Without a college degree, she reached a point where she was unable to advance in the culinary field. Hampton then decided to go back to school.

“I was skeptical about attending a four-year university because of the cost of tuition, textbooks and supplies while still maintaining my household,” said Hampton. “ However, with this scholarship, I will be able to focus on my education and internships.”

In addition, the gift will augment the current Brown-Lamb Collection of fiction and non-fiction adult and children’s literature in the University Library. The collection consists largely of signed first edition books related to the African diaspora and the LGBTQ community.  

Another component of the bequest will create an endowment for students majoring in ethnic and women’s studies in the College of Education & Integrative Studies. Lastly, the bequest will establish an endowed scholarship for students in the College of Engineering working toward degrees in mechanical, aerospace or manufacturing engineering.

“We stand on the shoulders of people who made our accomplishments possible, but we didn’t want to just stand on their shoulders. We wanted to do something about it. That’s what we are doing with this gift and why we want to keep our name off it,” said the donors.

The alumnus shared fond memories of support provided by the university’s Black Faculty and Staff Association and the staff of The Collins College. He received the “best education possible” because of the personalized and hands-on experiences that he got at CPP. The benefactors believe in supporting causes that benefit others. Giving back to the university to assist students is just one way they have chosen to accomplish this goal.

“It’s not easy being a university student if one comes from a low-income community or is the first in their family to get a college education,” they said. “We hope this gift will provide opportunities that these students might otherwise not have had.”

Although the donors of the bequest wish to remain anonymous, they named the collection in the University Library and the endowed scholarships after beloved family members on whose shoulders they stood on to achieve success.