New Life for LeMoyne-Owen College

LeMoyne-Owen College, the historically black college in Memphis, Tennessee, reported earlier this year that it would need to raise $3 million by June 30 in order to avert a major financial crisis. It appears that the immediate crisis has been averted.

Area churches pledged to contribute $500,000 in each of the next three years. Cummins Inc., the diesel engine manufacturer, pledged another $500,000. In June the Memphis city council voted 9-2 to award historically black LeMoyne-Owen College a cash infusion of $1 million over each of the next three years. This appropriation was challenged in court because a private institution was awarded public funds. But city attorneys told the court that the funds were from a budget surplus and the public funds would save jobs. They also noted that the college served an important role in the community and its loss would be a severe blow to all residents of the city of Memphis. The court permitted the first of the three $1 million payments.

With the city pledging its support, the United Church of Christ donated $600,000 and the Tom Joyner Foundation gave another $200,000. The Shelby County Commission is expected to contribute $500,000 which will trigger a matching grant from the state of Tennessee.