Opportunities for students to attend the University of South Alabama on an academic scholarship have increased significantly thanks to a longtime University donor and supporter who has made the largest gift ever given to a public university in the state of Alabama.
Mobile, Ala., businessman and philanthropist Abraham "Abe" Mitchell announced a gift of $50 million at USA's 50th Anniversary celebration Friday night. Half of this gift, $25 million, will endow a new academic scholarship program for students in all fields of study. The other $25 million will support the University’s Mitchell College of Business.
Mitchell’s record $50 million gift, combined with the $43 million given previously by the Mitchell family, brings the Mitchell family’s total giving to USA to $93 million. This $93 million in total giving further secures Abe Mitchell and the Mitchell family’s distinction as the state’s leading family in philanthropic support of a public university in Alabama.
“I am delighted to be a part of the University of South Alabama family,” Mitchell said. “When I consider my investment in USA and the people it serves, I remain certain that I have received far more than I have given.”
Mitchell named the scholarship program the Mitchell-Moulton Scholarship Initiative in honor of retiring USA President Gordon Moulton’s longtime commitment to the University and to enhancing higher education opportunities for students in the Gulf Coast and beyond.
Mitchell said his decision to establish the new scholarship initiative was based, in part, on President Moulton’s expressed wish to create more academic scholarship opportunities before retiring from the University.
“Given the rising costs of attending college and the pressure this puts on students and their families, President Moulton told me it was his fondest wish as he completed his career that even further efforts be made to create additional academic scholarships,” Mitchell said.
“This new scholarship program is about ensuring that a quality higher education remains within financial reach of all our citizens. The emphasis is not only on the highest academic achievers who have many opportunities here and elsewhere, but also on those solid middle-achieving students, who traditionally might not receive academic scholarships.”
During the 50th Anniversary ceremony, Mitchell expressed his appreciation for Moulton’s service and devotion over 46 years at USA.
“We are grateful for the lives you have touched through your leadership and vision for higher education,” Mitchell said. “I personally appreciate that you have demonstrated to me the value of investing in such a worthy endeavor as the University of South Alabama.”
“Even before this latest gift, Abe Mitchell’s philanthropy in support of the University of South Alabama’s missions to enhance education, health care and the quality of life throughout the Gulf Coast, the state of Alabama and beyond, was almost incomprehensible,” said USA President Gordon Moulton.
“This $50 million act of generosity– a record gift in the history of Alabama public higher education – will have a transformational positive impact on USA’s ability to provide pre-eminent educational opportunities for countless people today, tomorrow and forever.”
Giving by the Mitchell family – Abe Mitchell, the late Mayer Mitchell, and Mayer’s wife, Arlene – supports every mission area of the University teaching, research, service and health care. Areas of support include the Mitchell Cancer Institute, Mitchell College of Business, Mitchell Center arena, USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital, and a host of gifts for student scholarships, faculty support, health care enhancement, improvement of campus facilities, and athletics.
“It is rare in the life histories of American universities that one can find a citizen-friend who has affected the quality of both academic and health care programs as profoundly as has Mr. Mitchell,” said Dr. Joseph Busta, vice president for development and alumni relations. “He stands alone in this state and among the very few in the country whose philanthropy is altering the course of a university.”
The latest $25 million dollar scholarship gift will have the impact of a $50 million gift because it is a matching challenge gift. Other donors will be able to give to the University and Mitchell will match their gifts dollar-for-dollar to create a scholarship endowment of $50 million. This money will be invested and only the interest used, so the fund will support academic scholarships annually.
Under the matching challenge program, donors who make gifts of at least $10,000 will be recognized by having their names attached to the scholarships.
USA has one of the most generous academic scholarship programs in the state, currently awarding approximately 3,600 scholarships each year. When fully mature, the new scholarship fund established by Mitchell is expected to create up to 2,000 additional scholarships, bringing the University’s total number of scholarships awarded annually to some 5,600.
As part of the Mitchell-Moulton Scholarship Initiative, Mobile-area high school graduates with ACT scores of 21-22 and 3.0 grade-point averages will each receive a one-time $1,500 scholarship through the Bay Area Freshman Scholarship Award.
Also under the Mitchell-Moulton Scholarship Initiative, all in-state high school graduates and out-of-state residents who receive Alabama resident tuition rates (Mississippi students from George, Greene, Harrison, Jackson, Perry and Stone counties and Florida students from Escambia and Santa Rosa counties) will receive annually renewable scholarships according to the following schedule:
- 23 ACT score and 3.0 high school grade-point average: $2,500 per year
- 24-27 ACT score and 3.0 GPA: $3,500 per year
- 28-29 ACT score and 3.5 GPA: $5,000 per year
- 30-31 ACT score and 3.5 GPA: $8,000 per year
- 32 ACT score and 3.5 GPA: $9,000 per year
- 33 and above ACT score and 3.5 GPA: $11,000 per year
Out-of-state high school graduates who are not eligible for resident tuition will receive annually renewable scholarships under the Mitchell-Moulton Scholarship Initiative as follows:
- 23 ACT score and 3.0 high school grade-point average: $5,000 per year
- 24-27 ACT score and 3.0 GPA: $7,000 per year
- 28-29 ACT score and 3.5 GPA: $10,000 per year
- 30 and above ACT score and 3.5 GPA: $12,000 per year
Students interested in receiving a Mitchell-Moulton scholarship should contact the USA Office of Admissions online at www.southalabama.edu/admissions, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (251) 460-6141 or (800) 872-5247.