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Alcorn State foundation requests 22% raise for president

Alcorn State University Credit: Rogelio V. Solis, AP

Alcorn State University’s president could be getting a $55,000 raise from the nonprofit foundation that supports the school.

In June, ASU Foundation board members unanimously voted to increase President Felecia Nave’s annual salary supplement to $90,000, up from the $35,000 she currently receives, according to documents obtained by Mississippi Today. This would raise her total annual salary to $305,000.

But six months after the request, Nave has yet to receive the raise. The Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees, which must OK the pay bump, did not receive a letter seeking approval from the foundation’s chairman until late October, documents show. Caron Blanton, IHL spokesperson, wrote in an email that the board has not acted on the request. 

If approved by the IHL board, the raise would significantly increase spending for ASU’s foundation, which has one of the lowest budgets in the state. 

An explanation of why the foundation voted to raise Nave’s salary supplement was not included in the resolution sent to the IHL board. The letter from the ASU foundation chairman, Robert Gage, did not account for the gap between when the vote took place and when IHL received the request on Oct. 25.

During that time, frustration with Nave’s leadership led students to call for her resignation in a letter to the IHL board — a request the IHL board also has yet to publicly act on. 

Felecia Nave Credit: Mississippi Public Universities

University presidents in Mississippi are state employees who are paid with state funds by the IHL, but it’s common for them to receive an additional salary from the school’s nonprofit foundation. Seven out of the eight current university presidents receive such a supplement, which vastly range in size. At University of Mississippi, Glenn Boyce receives $500,000 annually from the school’s foundation. At Mississippi Valley State University, Jerryl Briggs does not receive a foundation supplement. 

The raise would see ASU’s foundation, whose revenue has wavered in recent years, pay Nave a greater salary supplement than Thomas Hudson receives at Jackson State. Jackson State University’s Development Foundation, which brought in more than $10 million in revenue in 2019, pays Hudson a $75,000 annual supplement. The ASU foundation made $5 million that same year. 

Since 2008, no other president at ASU has received such a raise from the foundation. IHL Commissioner Alfred Rankins, who was president of Alcorn from 2014 to 2018, never received a raise in his foundation supplement. He was paid $35,000 by the foundation all four years, according to IHL data, and his total salary the year he left was $250,000. 

A private nonprofit, the mission of ASU’s foundation is “to invest restricted funds to provide general support to university athletics, academic, institutional, and scholarship programs,” according to its most recent Form 990

To that end, the foundation provides scholarships, financial awards to students who graduate with outstanding grades. It fundraises by soliciting donations from alumni and many faculty, who are encouraged to donate a certain percentage of their paycheck to the foundation each month. 

The foundation has 10 members, most of whom are graduates, and an executive committee of three members. Gage, the foundation chairman, did not attend Alcorn but is from Port Gibson. 

Gage and other members of the foundation did not respond to Mississippi Today’s requests for comment.

Molly Minta covers higher education for Mississippi Today, in partnership with Open Campus.

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