The Riley Foundation has committed $4.5 million to Mississippi State University (MSU) to expand its presence in downtown Meridian. The gift includes the donation of the Newberry Building, a historical landmark adjacent to the MSU Riley Center, and scholarships for MSU-Meridian.
Mark E. Keenum, president of MSU, said, “This commitment will enhance educational opportunities in Meridian, Lauderdale County and across East Mississippi.”
The renovation of the Newberry Building, which is being coordinated by the university, will cost around $4 million. The 20,175-square-foot facility will include classroom space and offices to house the MSU-Meridian Division of Business. An additional $1.1 million will be needed to furnish and equip the Newberry Building.
MSU-Meridian currently enrolls non-residential students who typically are working adults or community college transfers. The additional classrooms and offices will allow room for 250 to 500 additional students and 15 to 20 faculty and administrators to meet the needs of those students.
In addition to the renovation of the Newberry Building, the $4.5-million commitment includes a challenge grant for scholarships to MSU-Meridian. The Riley Foundation will match dollar-for-dollar funds raised for scholarships, up to a total of $300,000. Priority for the scholarships will go to students from Lauderdale County, or those transferring from Meridian Community College, East Central Community College, East Mississippi Community College and Jones County Junior College.
The MSU Foundation will seek private scholarship support for the Riley Foundation to match. Keenum has placed an emphasis on increasing the amount of scholarship money offered by MSU, and the Riley grant would make it possible for many students to receive tuition to MSU-Meridian.