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As New Morehouse President, David Thomas Aims For Unprecedented $400M Endowment

As New Morehouse President, David Thomas Aims For Unprecedented $400M Endowment

Dr. David Thomas took office Jan. 1 as the 12th president of Morehouse College, and one of his goals is to increase the institution’s endowment, which is approximately $140 million, to between $300-to-$400 million.

Thomas has a track record as an excellent fundraiser for academic institutions.

If he succeeds, Morehouse would have the largest of all endowments at historically black colleges and universities.

Some schools such as Harvard have endowments worth billions of dollars. Endowments represent money or other financial assets donated to universities or colleges that are meant to be invested. For many universities, about 5 percent of the endowment’s total asset value can be spent each year.

From MorehouseCollege.edu. Story by Add Seymour Jr.

In his first news conference since becoming the 12th President of Morehouse College, Dr. David A. Thomas charted a bold new future for the institution— setting goals that would make Morehouse a leader among all historically black colleges and universities.

“We just celebrated our 150th anniversary last year,” President Thomas said recently as trustees, faculty members, administrators, alumni and a student beamed behind him. “It’s exciting to come to the College at a moment when now what we have to think about is how we can secure the next 150 years. It will require us to examine all aspects of what we do and to ask the question ‘How can we continue to make a distinctive and unique impact on the world?’ ”

Thomas, who formerly served as dean of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and was the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, took office on Jan. 1.

Two weeks into his administration, he addressed media in a press conference at Morehouse’s Bank of America Auditorium and outlined several major benchmarks he believes the College should be able to attain.

  • Increasing Morehouse’s endowment, which is approximately $140 million, to between $300-$400 million. That would be the largest of all endowments at historically black colleges and universities.
  • Doubling alumni giving, which is currently 17 percent, to 34 percent.
  • Making sure that the next group of incoming freshmen, who will be the Class of 2022, have a four-year graduation rate of 70 percent. That will be part of Thomas’ vision to “create a culture of completion.”
  • Significantly upgrading campus facilities and technology infrastructure and building the “campus of the future.”

Thomas envisions a huge capital campaign to address many of the campus’ needs and plans, including boosting scholarship funding.

“We’re in the process of doing a feasibility study,” Thomas said. “I’m imagining a campaign that would be between $250 and $500 million dollars, which would be the largest campaign in the history of the school and which would be on par with many of the major liberal arts colleges in this country.”

Thomas is the first non-Morehouse graduate to lead the college since the revered President Benjamin E. Mays served from 1940-1967. Thomas said he wanted to attend Morehouse as a child, but as the son of working-class parents, he couldn’t afford it and took a full scholarship at Yale.

“It feels weighty in ways that I didn’t experience at Georgetown,” Thomas said of becoming Morehouse’s President. “I wake up every day and walk outside my house and I see young David Thomases. Already I have young men who stop me on the street and they’ve read my story and they tell me ways in which it reminds me of their story… So, in ways, that’s inspiring, but in ways, that’s daunting.”

Read more at MorehouseCollege.edu.