Charles Barkley Foundation makes generous gift to College of Education

February 5, 2016


charles barkley and deanThe Charles Barkley Foundation, named for Auburn’s legendary goodwill ambassador and NBA Hall of Famer, recently made generous gifts to the College of Education’s Future Scholars Summer Research Bridge Program. The gifts totaled over $50,000.

Specifically, the gifts will support six Kinesiology students for the Summer Bridge Program, three Engineering/Science-based students in the Summer Bridge Program, and one Summer Bridge Program graduate student (the Charles Barkley Fellow) for 2017-18.

According to Dean Betty Lou Whitford, the gifts have a value that goes beyond their dollar amount.

Not only does Charles’s generosity make our College a better, more inclusive place to learn and work, it changes lives.

“Not only does Charles’s generosity make our College a better, more inclusive place to learn and work, it changes lives,” she said. “Many of us work closely with our Bridge scholars as they progress through graduate school, and they are thriving. The Bridge program makes us a stronger college. These students go on to careers in academia, research, medicine, physical therapy, and many other health-related careers. They also form a bond with Auburn that will last a lifetime.”

“Dr. Jared Russell, an associate professor in Kinesiology and a graduate of Morehouse College, has recruited non-traditional and first-generation students into the College’s graduate programs where they are adding greatly to all that our College is trying to do,” Whitford added. “We are very close to achieving Dr. Russell’s goal of graduating at least one minority doctoral student every year for ten consecutive years.”

julie nolen and charles barkleyBarkley was recently an honoree at the College of Human Sciences Quality of Life event at the United Nations Building in New York, which was attended by Dean Whitford, COE Development Director Julie Nolen, and former faculty member and Auburn Lifetime Achievement Award winner Dr. Jane Moore. At the event, which also honored Congressman John Lewis, Barkley delivered a moving address about what Auburn has meant to him. Many in the room, including Dean Whitford, said they were moved to tears.

The Future Scholars Summer Research Bridge Program was began by Russell following his own experiences of moving from Morehouse College to graduate school.

“When I was a senior at Morehouse College in 1997, I told an advisor I wanted to try graduate school, and she gave me a big book that listed all the schools. That was it. I went to the University of Georgia and had a great experience, but I thought that was a bad way to encourage people and I never forgot it. I wanted to do something about it so several years ago I went to Morehouse and told some students there about Auburn. A few came to visit us here, and one guy enrolled. The next year four or five more came to visit, and two people enrolled. We were starting to see results and felt good about it.”

As more people from Morehouse came to Auburn, Russell began visiting Spelman and had similar results.

We are grateful to Charles for his generosity and belief in something that we in the College embrace as one of our core principles.

“After that, we received help from Graduate School Dean George Flowers and then one of our top development people reached out to Charles Barkley, who also believes very deeply in the importance of diversity at Auburn. Charles has continued to love and support his university for many years. After much discussion, Charles decided to fund this program. We are grateful to Charles for his generosity and belief in something that we in the College embrace as one of our core principles.”