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WSSU shows you the money

A breakdown of the $30 million donation from MacKenzie Scott

It’s been three years since Winston-Salem State University announced its largest donation in the university’s history from a single donor. Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donated $30 million to WSSU in December 2020.

How do you invest $30 million dollars? Carefully and strategically with the input of faculty, staff and students.

Dr. LaTanya Afolayan, vice chancellor for University Advancement, said that’s exactly what happened under the leadership of then Chancellor Dr. Elwood Robinson.  “When we received the money, the chancellor established three committees (faculty, staff and students) to discuss this $30 million gift and how they envisioned it would be utilized.”

When all of the recommendations were tallied up, the costs slightly exceeded $40 million and Robinson chiseled it down to the $30 million level, she said.

To state it simply, there are five buckets of funding detailed below:

Long-term investments at $10 million

This is the biggest piece of the pie. However, WSSU can only request and use the interest income from this investment. “We never invade the principal. So endowed funds are available in perpetuity. That’s a donation that will be here for the duration of the university,” Afolayan said. It will provide a permanent self-sustaining funding source for the college.

The funds in the long-term investments are designated specifically for endowed scholarships; book scholarships; high-impact practices (study abroad, professional development for students, internship accommodations); a faculty and staff professional development endowment; and a faculty and staff retention endowment.

Reserves at $8,260,000

These funds, invested with Truist Investments, are designated to support the unanticipated needs of the college. For example, the money can be used to repair the heating system if it goes out. The college has immediate access to these funds.

Immediate investments at $5,550,000

The college has access to these funds, which are designated for scholarships, high-impact practices, and immediate discretionary funding for Advancement, Athletics, the Chancellor’s Office, the Chancellor’s Speaker Series, Finance and Administration, and Student Affairs.

The total budget for scholarships is $3,498,000 with the following breakdown: first-time freshman (1.5M); transfer students ($1M); graduate students ($500,000); and almost home scholarships ($498,000). To date, $98,000 has been awarded to first-time freshmen out of this bucket. This is due to Financial Aid currently using $2.6M in university and WSSU Foundation scholarship funds to help students with scholarships.

The discretionary funds to the aforementioned offices total $1.3M with each receiving $250,000 with the exception of Student Affairs at $200,000 and Finance and Administration at $150,000.

Facilities and Infrastructure

WSSU used $3,940,000 for facilities and infrastructure with the bulk, $3.6M, being used to purchase two buildings on Museum Drive in Winston-Salem (289 Mercantile Drive). The college is leasing one of the buildings to Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools. The second building is vacant, but the intent was to use it as a satellite campus for evening classes to accommodate adult learners.

WSSU also used $340,000 to buy 17.5 acres at 1509 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

All of the allocated funds in this bucket have been exhausted.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The total allocation for this bucket was $2,250,000 with $2M designated to Bright Labs/Innovation Labs; and $250,000 set for the Chancellor’s Speaker Series on creativity, innovation and social mobility.

The labs portion has $1,667,607 remaining. The speaker series has $171,500 left in its budget.

See accompanying infographic for a quick reference of the breakdown of the $30M donation.

For more information or updates on how WSSU is investing the donation, contact Dr. LaTanya Afolayan at



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