“It’s been an avalanche of people saying how significant this gift is not only for Morehouse, but for the African American community to see a philanthropist like Robert Smth say this institution and others like it are worthy of support at the highest level,” he said.
The attention has generated conversations about rising college costs and student loan debt, particularly at historically black colleges and universities like Morehouse. Many of its 2,200 students come from low-income households and most receive federal financial aid. HBCUs do not get as much in donations from major philanthropists, research shows. The total cost to attend Morehouse is about $48,000 a year, Thomas said.
Thomas said the college and its partner schools in the Atlanta University Center are exploring ways to cut costs for students and the schools by creating a data analytics institute to avoid offering similar courses in that field and sharing software platforms to purchase materials.
Smith’s gift, Thomas said, has “created a momentum that I can assure you we will not squander.”