By Ariel Butler
CI received its largest donation to date on June 15, 2021 with a $15 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott and her husband Dan Jewett. Interim President Richard Yao stated that the donation was “in recognition of our campus commitment to equity and inclusion, the social mobility of our students, and our overall contribution to the greater good of our communities, region, and nation.”
Scott’s commitment to reallocating her fortune includes an initiative granting nearly $3 billion to 286 organizations that, according to Scott, “have been historically underfunded and overlooked.”
In Scott’s blog post titled “Seeding by Ceding,” she stated her belief that “it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands,” and that one motivation for her and her husband’s generous donation was in alignment with an attempt “to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change.”
Scott placed no restrictions as to how the money will be used, trusting Interim President Yao and the campus community to effectively carry out her initiative. In CI’s official news release from June 15, Interim President Yao called the gift transformational and said he will use the donation to carry out presidential priorities, including closing the equity gap, increasing student retention and graduation rates and improving the level of equity and inclusion within the community.
Scott’s decision to grant CI this gift came from recognition of the university’s commitment to providing a high level of education to all. Thus, the donation will be used to assist this commitment.
Many CI students come from low-income or underrepresented backgrounds: 54.5% are eligible for the Pell Grant, and 58.2% come from Historically Underrepresented Groups, according to CI’s official spring 2021 enrollment data. In the blog post, Scott also recognized the importance of empowering people, she wrote, “People working to build power from within communities are the agents of change. . . Higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity.”
With her gift, the University will uphold presidential priorities, paving a path to success for all students by closing the equity gap and increasing opportunities for historically underrepresented student populations.
While the University still has not fully outlined how the gift will be utilized to reach these goals, The CI View will continue to update its readers as the story develops.