Mayor announces large donation for LeMoyne Owen

Financially strapped LeMoyne Owen College is getting a $2.5 million donation to chip away at its $6.5 million debt, giving the financially strapped college a shot in the arm and a shot at new life.

It's an institution that has been on the brink of extinction for years with dwindling enrollment and mounting financial problems.

But there is a new optimism among school supporters, thanks to a pledge from an anonymous donor.

"The sun is shining on LeMoyne College," said Memphis Mayor and LeMoyne alum Willie Herenton.

"He was grateful to God that he has been able to enjoy some economic prosperity and he felt the need to give back," said Mayor Herenton of the donor.

The gift will put 1.5 million in the college's bank account by the end of this month, with another 1 million to be donated as a challenge grant.

"And we will be able to say for the fourth consecutive year, we balanced our budget," said outgoing LeMoyne College President, Dr. James Wingate.

But the money comes with strings attached.  The donor wants all current members of the LeMoyne Owen board of trustees to resign with the exception of alumni and those with church affiliations.

"The board is the leadership of the college I think it's necessary to begin a new process of reinventing this institution, it has to begin with the board,"

Mayor Willie Herenton and Board Chair Robert Lipscomb have both said they will resign their seats even though they are not required to because they are alums.

Last December, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.. the region's accrediting body.. placed LeMoyne Owen on "probation with good cause" for continued financial problems.
That decision is up for review in October.