Southern University alumni Mark and Dawn Malveaux are giving students at the university a leg up — like they received as Jaguars — with the first $1 million endowed scholarship in the university’s history.
The Malveauxs officially presented the gift at the Southern University Board of Supervisors meeting on Friday. The gift will support students at the school’s College of Business, where Mark Malveaux graduated magna cum laude in 1989 with a degree in economics. His wife, Dawn Malveaux, is a third-generation Southern University alumna and graduated with a computer science degree in 1984.
In addition to the scholarship, the college’s master of business administration program will be named for the couple.
Mark Malveaux said he proposed the donation to his wife at the beginning of the year, and to see the gift come to fruition is still surreal.
“Other than my children, this is one of the best seeds I’ve planted. I’m really looking forward to seeing it grow and I’m very gratified to be able to give,” he said.
Malveaux attended the University of Virginia School of Law post-graduation. Now 53, he is a partner in the Dallas office of public finance firm McCall, Parkhurst and Horton, an investor in businesses like specialty pizza company Zalat Pizza and serves on the board for the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System, according to a Southern University statement.
Growing up, Malveaux said the path to Southern University felt inevitable. Black educators and other professionals in his Lafayette neighborhood had attended the school, or other historically Black colleges and universities, and he had family members who worked at the university. But once there, Malveaux said his experience blossomed into much more.
The attorney said professors at Southern University invested in him and helped set him on the path to his current success, whether lending a listening ear or pushing him to pursue opportunities, from applying for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which he was the first Southern University student to receive, to a fellowship at Princeton University.
“Those people made an indelible mark on me and in some ways were instrumental in the path that I’ve taken,” Malveaux said.
Honoring those professors’ support, and the love and sacrifices of the communities that raised Malveaux and his wife, was the impetus for the gift, he said.
Growing up in north Lafayette, Malveaux was surrounded by rich culture and generous relationships; from undereducated family members who moved to the city after working as sharecroppers to dentists, business owners and other professionals, the people were hard working, generous and “some of the most humble, dignified people I’ve known,” he said.
His family sacrificed to provide him opportunities, while his teachers at Northside High School went out of their way to help Malveaux and his peers learn. His time on the school’s debate team was instrumental in stoking his interest in the law, he said.
“To have that type of love and community support, it’s kind of like parents. Whatever happens, you have them. That’s a certain sense of security and strength that allows you to go out into the world, travel, go all kinds of places, but always know at your core that you are accepted and you are supported by a community,” Malveaux said.
The Southern University alumnus said he’s hopeful the scholarship funds will help the university attract competitive students and strengthen the pool of talent entering the ranks of the business school.
Malveaux said he also hopes their $1 million gift inspires other alumni to donate to the university. According to a survey published in 2017 by U.S. News and World Report, on average only 11% of HBCU alumni donate to their alma maters, based on data from participating universities. Malveaux said he wants to help move that needle.
The attorney said he’s already received messages from fellow Jaguars keen to donate following the announcement.
“What’s good for HBCUs is good for America,” he said. “[Southern University] has been such a bridge to these communities in Louisiana and, quite honestly, around the nation, that without these little islands of influence you would not have nearly the breadth of a Black middle and upper middle class….[HBCUs] are a particular route to an American success story.”
Southern University College of Business Dean Donald Andrews said securing donations from alumni, corporations and other partners is increasingly critical following state disinvestment in higher education. So is making the most of the money once secured; Andrews said the college hopes to secure matching funds from the Louisiana Board of Regents to further leverage the Malveauxs’ donation.
The dean said the college’s scholarship committee is developing criteria for disbursement of the scholarship funds. The college plans to establish scholarships for incoming and current students, including graduate students pursuing MBAs in the program newly named for the Malveauxs.
The Malveauxs’ generosity is a prime example of the importance of strategic investment in students, the dean said. While attending Southern University, Mark Malveaux received a Board of Supervisors scholarship totaling $5,000, roughly equivalent to $11,000 today. For every dollar they gave Malveaux, he’s given the university over $85 in return, Andrews said.
“Investing in individuals in terms of their education and training pays major dividends. You never really know, in a lot of cases...who that individual is going to be, but we know on average individuals are going to benefit greatly and will have the capacity to give to society,” the dean said.