A landmark desegregation lawsuit filed more than 40 years ago will again reap benefits for Mississippi’s flagship historically black college, as Jackson State University will receive a $24 million boost to its endowment for meeting court-mandated racial enrollment standards.
The Associated Press reports that JSU has met a 10-percent, non-black student enrollment standard for three consecutive years, one of several conditions established in the 2001 federal Ayers v. Fordice decision, structured to deliver more than $500 million towards the elimination of race-based disparities between the predominantly white and historically black institutions.
Alcorn State, which became the first Mississippi black college to gain access to this endowment program in 2005, had become in recent years a model for HBCU diversity recruitment and enrollment. Both ASU and JSU have opened satellite locations in Vicksburg and Madison, MS respectively, and have expanded distance learning to attract a broader cross-section of students.
But the AP also reports that Alcorn’s non-black enrollment dropped to 6.4 percent in 2014, and that Mississippi Valley State University has never met the non-black student enrollment stipulation.
JSU officials say the money will bring a windfall to the university’s scholarship programs and investment activities, particularly as much of Ayers’ related funding has begun to expire in recent years.
“One of the major things at Jackson State is we want to continue to grow and be a diverse campus reflective of our state,” (JSU Vice-President of Institutional Advancement Anthony) Holloman said. “Those dollars have allowed us to recruit the best and brightest students regardless of race,” he said.
Mississippi higher ed officials say the money from the endowment fund will be transferred immediately.