Not a month passed in 2021 without news of endowments, gifts, and grants received by Morgan State University. One study showed that the impact of the largest historically Black college and university (HBCU) in Maryland topped $1 billion in that year alone. The study also found that the HBCU supports 6,900 jobs, more than 4,000 within Baltimore City—accounting for $558 million in Maryland wages and $188 million in Baltimore.
During Black History Month, Morgan announced a $20 million commitment from alum Calvin E. Tyler Jr. and his wife, Tina. Tyler’s success was stuff you can’t make up. In 1961, he enrolled at Morgan, the first in his family to attend college. But two years later, he was forced to drop out and work as a UPS driver. He retired in 1998 as a senior executive at the package delivery company. Sixty years after leaving his alma mater without a degree, Tyler returned to help students who continue to encounter financial hardships.
The Calvin and Tina Tyler Scholarship Fund has supported more than 200 students at Morgan through 46 full tuition and 176 partial scholarships. The gift is believed to be the most significant contribution by an HBCU alum to any of the 107 colleges in the United States identified by the U.S. Department of Education as HBCUs.
“Morgan is so proud to call this son and daughter of the great city of Baltimore our own,” said David K. Wilson, president of Morgan State University, in February 2021. “Through their historic giving, the doors of higher education will most certainly be kept open for generations of aspiring leaders whose financial shortfalls may have kept them from realizing their academic dreams.”
Like Tyler, when David Wilson arrived at Tuskegee University in the fall of ‘73, he was the first in his family to go to college. During a Zoom interview with US Black Engineer magazine in the winter of 2021, the son of Alabama sharecroppers said that he felt like a fish out of water the first few days on campus.
Wilson’s school experience in McKinley, AL, ran from a one-room school with a single teacher for five grades to a high school graduating class with 40 seniors. As Wilson described it, the walls of his childhood home were daubed with pages of Look and Life magazines to keep the chilly wind out. But the opportunities and promise of a bigger world out there came through those old magazines upcycled as wallpaper, which informed and educated him. They entertained Wilson and his brother and sisters closest to him in age.
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