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Alabama State University receives Wall Street firm’s historic endowment assistance

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(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) — Alabama State University is partnering with private equity firm Neuberger Berman to manage the school’s $125 million endowment – making it the largest such partnership between a Wall Street firm and a public historically Black college and university (HBCU) ever.

The new relationship is a “blessing,” according to ASU President Quinton T. Ross, Jr. He called the partnership overwhelmingly impactful for ASU.

“Through this partnership with Neuberger Berman, not only do we look at the long term stability of the institution, but also the investment in students who will be receiving scholarships for generations to come,” Ross said. “Because of monies generated by our endowment, because of this partnership, we ensure that students are able to benefit from what we’re doing.”

Ross is confident both scholarships and internships will benefit current students like rising junior Kayleigh Dunn. The finance major said she is still pinching herself after landing a coveted summer job at the firm in New York City.

That dream job, Dunn said, will allow her to merge interests in equity and personal finance. Both her dad and grandparents attended the school, so she wants to show that HBCU students have long deserved these opportunities.

“I feel like HBCU students are coming hard,” she said. “We know the work we can do. And we know if we get a chance to be there, and we get a chance to put our best foot forward, we’re going to make waves.”

As higher education faces a watershed moment with attacks on diversity, equity, and inclusion and the Supreme Court’s elimination of race-based admissions, Ross said the partnership excites the ASU community.

“Longevity is in our DNA and through that we have to continue to wave the banner to let them know that HBCUs really are the greatest thing that happened within the African American community when you look at the production of powerful citizens across this nation,” he said.

Ross told ABC News attaining financial wealth management from the sixth largest private equity firm in the world will also address decades of underfunding

“As the endowment grows, we will be able to use some of those funds, not only for scholarships, but also to help to secure and stabilize our infrastructure,” he said, adding “That’s why it’s necessary to make sure that you have the right partner [Neuberger Berman] with the right vision, because they can move along with you in that time of growth.”

Dominique Baker, associate professor of education and public policy at the University of Delaware, said the partnership is unique for HBCUs.

“Public HBCUs have been denied their rightful funding from the state and the federal government for a significant period of time,” Baker said. “And so getting these types of fund managers is not enough when it comes to thinking about the type of funding support that public HBCUs should be receiving,” she added.

Meanwhile, Neuberger Berman Private Wealth Adviser Xavier Peoples said he is helping invest ASU’s endowment so the school reaches its long-term financial goals.

Issuing a call for support from more companies, Peoples told ABC News “when HBCUs do well, America does well.”

“When HBCUs do better, when their endowments do better, America does better,” he said. “It gives America a greater [pool] of college graduates that can come in to our workforce. Wall Street firms should be all in on working with historically Black colleges and universities and helping their endowments to be the best that they can be.”

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