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Contact: Lynn Stewart, Centenary News Service, 318-869-5120, lstewart@centenary.edu
or the Louisiana Board of Regents, 225-342-4253

Regents Complete $500,000 in Funding for 5 Endowed Professorships Honoring Irene Wright at Centenary College

SHREVEPORT, LA -- Members of the Centenary College community will gather Wednesday, Sept. 3 to hear Dr. E. Joseph Savoie, Louisiana commissioner of higher education, announce the completion of a half million dollars in funding for five new Endowed Professorships in mathematics.

The 9 a.m. ceremony in Centenary's Hamilton Hall will complete a local and state funding effort that matches privately raised gifts with the Louisiana Board of Regents Support Fund on a 60:40 basis.

Centenary President Kenneth L. Schwab and Dr. Savoie will jointly announce the professorships, all five named in honor of Mrs. Irene Kuhn Wright of the Class of 1938. The late Mrs. Wright was a mathematics major who advanced from a job as a bank secretary to the post of vice president and trust officer of Bank One. She credited a caring Centenary professor with changing the course of her life and allowing her to realize her seemingly impossible dream of earning a college degree. “The impossible can be possible,” Mrs. Wright wrote in her will bequeathing more than $2 million to Centenary.

“If that professor had not taken the time and effort to check on his student, where would her life have taken her?” Schwab said. “Would she have landed an unskilled job because of her lack of an education?”

Schwab praised Gov. Mike Foster, the Louisiana Legislature, the Board of Regents and the Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities for making higher education a priority. "We are pleased that the Legislature chose to appropriate funds to match the gifts of supporters of Louisiana’s colleges and universities. College support continues to be critical to our state's future," he said, "and it is important to keep the momentum going.”

He notes that Centenary now has a total of 48 professorships endowed at $100,000 each, 11 Eminent Scholars chairs endowed at $1 million each, and one Eminent Scholars chair endowed with $2 million. Another eight endowed chairs at the College were funded prior to or separate from the Support Fund.

The presentation ceremony will also include representatives of the Board of Regents, the area legislative delegation, and the Centenary administration, faculty, staff and student body.

The endowed chair and professorship programs are part of the Regents' innovative Support Fund, which began as a permanent trust fund approved by the voters of Louisiana in a 1986 constitutional amendment. The funds were part of a settlement between the state and federal governments over offshore oil and gas revenue.

The Legislature regularly appropriates part of the interest from the fund to the Board of Regents, the policy-making and coordinating agency for higher education in Louisiana. Additional funds go to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for grades K-12.

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