In 1975, Jake Ayers Sr. sued the state of Mississippi claiming that the state’s three historically Black universities continued to be underfunded compared to the state’s predominantly White educational institutions. After decades of legal wranglings, in 2001 the state agreed to a $500 million settlement of the case.
One of the provisions of the agreement was that the state would provide $70 million to boost the endowments of the three public HBCUs in the state. But there was a catch. In order to receive the funds for their endowment, Jackson State University, Alcorn State University, and Mississippi Valley State University would have to have non-Black enrollments of at least 10 percent for three consecutive years.
Alcorn State University met the requirement in 2005 and received its endowment funds. (Now only 6 percent of the student body at Alcorn State in non-Black). Mississippi Valley State University has not met the requirement. Today, 91 percent of the student body at Mississippi Valley State is Black.
Recently, the state transferred $24.3 million to Jackson State, after the university posted its third year of non-Black enrollment of greater than 10 percent. This allocation more than doubles the university’s total endowment.
Under the terms of the agreement, the university may not use the principle but only income from the principle and this income must be used for academic purposes.