Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Chairing UP: Black Alumni, Students Endow Whitney M. Young Jr. Memorial Chair at U of P's Wharton School of Business

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Chairing UP: Black Alumni, Students Endow Whitney M. Young Jr. Memorial Chair at U of P's Wharton School of Business

Article excerpt

Chairing UP: Black Alumni, Students Endow Whitney M. Young Jr. Memorial. Chair at U of P's Wharton School of Business

PHILADELPHIA -- To ensure a permanent African-American presence and establish themselves as major forces in institutional policy-making, African-American students and alumni of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business have raised a $1.25 million endowment for a new Whitney M. Young Jr. Memorial Chair. It will support the teaching and research activities of scholars of African descent at Wharton.

"As demands are made on selective white institutions for [a role in] admissions and decision-making, we also acquire an obligation of fully participating in the support of those institutions," said one of the endowment's organizers Dr. Marcus Alexis, professor of Management and Strategy at the J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

According to W. Frank Fountain, vice president of government affairs for the Chrysler Corporation, a Wharton alumnus and chairman of the fund-raising committee, the alumni felt that "by pooling our resources and collective talents, we could make a contribution to our alma mater which would give us an opportunity to ensure an African-American permanence at the Wharton School."

Fountain says the endowment will enable African Americans to play a stronger role in the university's affairs by "putting something on the table."

The endowment, which has been in the works since 1989, will ensure the permanence of a professor of African ancestry. The Whitney M. Young Jr. Chair was named after the late civil rights leader to honor his contributions as an educator and humanitarian. For more than two decades, Young led the Urban League in its efforts to improve the economic status of African Americans. He died in 1971 while attending a conference in Nigeria.

Most of the endowment funds came from corporations where there was internal leadership by an African-American alumnus. Mark Belton of General Mills, for example, a 1982 Wharton graduate, was responsible for his company making the largest contribution -- $350,000.

Alexis said the endowment, "sets a standard to which I can assure you other Black MBA students shall repeat. …

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