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SMWC announces George Floyd Scholarship

News | 06.29.2020

During the memorial service for George Floyd, who was killed while in custody of police in May, Scott Hagan, Ph.D., president of North Central University urged all colleges and universities across the nation to create a scholarship in Floyd’s name. Today, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) announced it joins this institution and others in establishing a George Floyd Memorial Scholarship.

“This is the time to impact the future.” These are the words in a letter from Dottie King, Ph.D., president of SMWC, about the death of George Floyd that inspired SMWC alumna and activist, Katie Dougherty ’65 to do something. The North Central announcement coupled with King’s words solidified what she felt in her heart – to provide seed funds to establish the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship. Three of her classmates wholeheartedly joined the effort to create a permanently endowed fund.

Dougherty explained, “I’ve been working on racial equality all of my adult life. This was just the right next step. The Holy Spirit inspired me, I listened for guidance, sought counsel and took action despite knowing I might meet with resistance. I just knew I had to do this.”  

“This scholarship serves as a symbol of the College’s commitment to diversity and an investment in aspiring Black students,” said Dottie King, Ph.D., president of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. “While there is more work to do in the pursuit of racial equality, the scholarship serves as a perpetual reminder of the value we place on social justice and creating a diverse and inclusive world.”

Classmate Bobbie Barrett ’65, said, “…our alma mater, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, prepares her students to do the most important thing we can aspire to — to effect positive change in our world. Inspired by the leadership of our classmate Kathleen, we felt called to join her in making a difference—this is who we are.”

Gratitude is the sentiment expressed by Dougherty’s classmates who have joined her in this endeavor.

“I am so grateful to Katie for having the courage to suggest this scholarship and make it real and to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College for embracing her idea,” said Barbara Roguski Mandal ’65.

“I’m too old to protest in this age of COVID-19, but I really wanted to do something. Supporting this scholarship is an opportunity to do just that.”

Catherine Cunningham ’65 echoed the same emotion, “I am grateful to Katie for making her inspiration a reality and to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods for supporting this effort.

Unable to participate in anti-racism rallies and protests, Dougherty prayerfully considered how to best respond to the racial disparities she witnessed. “I knew I had to find a way to light my own little candle in the midst of the pandemic, economic crisis, and protests against social injustice. “This [scholarship] will be the candle that I will light.”

“The extraordinary generosity and passion of these women is remarkable,” King noted. “The formation of this scholarship comes from a genuine outpouring of human empathy and hope for the future.” King added, “George Floyd’s death shook us all to our core. It reminded us of our common humanity and deepened our resolve to address racial inequality. It is through access to education that we can create sustainable change for future generations.”

The George Floyd Memorial Scholarship will support Black Americans undergraduate students, who are in good academic standing and demonstrate financial need. When fully endowed, the scholarship will stand at $50,000. SMWC alumni have already contributed more than 40% of the gifts needed. Additional support from graduates and friends inspired to effect positive change will enable the scholarship to be awarded this fall.

Beginning in 2019, SMWC annually awards Diversity Scholarships providing up to 50% tuition scholarships to students who self-identify as Asian, Black American or Hispanic on their admission application.

To learn more about scholarships at SMWC, visit, smwc.edu/scholarships. Those wishing to donate to the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship may do so by visiting smwc.edu/giving.