Reception held for contributions to scholarship program

Analicia Haynes, Online Editor


Organizers behind the endowment fund for the Commitment to Excellence Scholarship Program will host an open reception to ask for more donations.

The reception will take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday in the 7th Street Underground of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Andrew McNitt, a retired professor and one of the faces behind the endowment fund, said after reaching the initial goal of $25,000 within the first 18 months of establishing the fund, he wants to double that and raise $50,000.

Funding for the endowment began during the 2014-2015 school year. It has support from both faculty and staff, McNitt said.

According to a press release, the Commitment to Excellence Scholarship Program is an academic merit scholarship automatically awarded to students entering Eastern for the first time.

The scholarships range from $2,000 to $4,500 per student annually and can be renewed for up to four years, as long as recipients remain eligible.

The program was a result of a “strategic planning process” during former Eastern President Bill Perry’s administration and was initially supposed to be funded with state appropriations, McNitt said.

“Initially the argument (for funding the scholarships) was because the state appropriation was high enough that it would compensate (the university),” he said. “But those were the days when we had an appropriation on a regular basis and now it has become more problematic.”

The university may now struggle to pay for these scholarships since the state has neglected to pass a state budget ensuring that universities have appropriations. The cost of attending any university has also increased tremendously, McNitt said.

When attending school in the ‘70s, McNitt said, he could work 10 hours a week and make enough money in a 10-week term to pay for his next semester’s tuition bill.

“It is no longer possible to do that and consequently, something has to be done to keep tuition at a much more reasonable level,” McNitt said.

He said this is why he and other faculty members, including members of the Council for University Planning and Budgeting, established an endowment fund.

“The existence of the endowment is also a way for the university to continue the scholarships,” McNitt said. He said though there was tremendous support for the establishment of the program, an endowment was not created to try to compensate the university for the loss of the appropriation.

“What we’re trying to do is establish an endowment fund and use that as a way of compensating the university for the difference,” he said.

McNitt said initially, everyone involved had different ideas about how to raise the money but in the end they managed to come together.

His goal is to make the reception an annual event to raise more funds and reach higher goals.

There will be music and refreshments at the reception as well as a fishbowl where attendees can drop their contribution toward raising the $50,000.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]