Florida A&M University Receives $237 Million Gift But Some Observers Say “Show Me the Money”

Historically Black Florida A&M University has received a $237.75 million gift from the Issac Batterson 7th Family Trust and Gregory Gerami, chief executive officer of Batterson Farms Corps. The gift is nearly double the university’s current endowment valued at $121 million, and one of the largest personal donations ever received by a historically Black college or university.

“This gift is breathtaking in its generosity and its scope. It changes the narrative about what is possible for FAMU. I cannot thank Gregory Gerami and the Issac Batterson 7th Family Trust enough. Their names are now etched into the annals of Florida A&M University in perpetuity,” said Larry Robinson, president of Florida A&M University. “This donation will have a far-reaching impact on our academic and athletics programs. It will greatly enhance our ability to provide scholarships for students and also give us a boost in recruiting top students, and recruiting and retaining top faculty.”

Three years ago, Gerami founded Batterson Farms Corps, a hydroponic farming and hemp plastic manufacturing company located in San Antonio, Texas. Through cultivating industrial hemp for various purposes, his business contributes to pediatric cancer research, sustainable agriculture, and community welfare. Batterson Farming Corp produces organic products year-round, grown by Batterson and local farmers.

Gerami was interested in supporting Florida A&M University due to the school’s established farming and hemp production research capabilities, which aligns with his company’s mission. His gift will support numerous student success initiatives at the university, including the Center for Disability Access and Resources and the athletic department.

“FAMU has become like a family to our Trust, our company and to me. Our morals and our mission are in line with FAMU and FAMU’s mission,” said Gerami. “It’s also about making sure that we set FAMU on the path to being the top HBCU in this country.”

After the gift was announced, some observers questioned whether the gift was a hoax. Germani had pledged $95 million to Coastal Carolina University in 2023 but later rescinded the gift.

In a post for Education News Flash entitled “For the Love of Money: Has FAMU Been Fooled,” reporter Jerell Blakeley states that ” Batterson Farms Corp has no searchable contracts in the state of Texas or with the federal government. There are no profiles of the family trust on any nonprofit database or with the IRS, or with the Comptroller of Texas. What you can find about Gerami is sparing and what is available on his company’s website is outright unimpressive. A little more digging shows that Gerami served time in prison for an assault charge in 2022. It is hard to avoid the feeling that this ‘donation’ will go down as one of the biggest scams in higher education history.”

After the validity of the donation was questioned, the university held a news conference saying they had properly vetted the donation and that stock had already been transferred to the university. Germani added that the stock could be sold but not until later this year.

The university issued a statement which read in part: “Mr. Gerami’s $237,750,000 stock transfer was received in the same manner in which we have accepted all other stocks donated to the University through the FAMU Foundation Inc. As with any non-cash gift received, such as cryptocurrency, real estate and stocks, it will be converted to cash and recorded appropriately.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Recent Books of Interest to African American Scholars

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education regularly publishes a list of new books that may be of interest to our readers. The books included are on a wide variety of subjects and present many different points of view.

Online Articles That May Be of Interest to JBHE Readers

Each week, JBHE will provide links to online articles that may be of interest to our readers. Here are this week’s selections.

Higher Education Gifts or Grants of Interest to African Americans

Here is this week’s news of grants or gifts to historically Black colleges and universities or for programs of particular interest to African Americans in higher education.

Three African Americans Appointed to Leadership Positions in Diversity

The three African Americans appointed to diversity positions are Melanie Duckworth at the University of Nevada Reno, Doug Thompson at the University of Notre Dame, and Anthony Jones at Centre College in Kentucky.

Featured Jobs