Billionaire Robert F. Smith capped off the May 19 commencement ceremony at Atlanta’s Morehouse College with a surprise announcement—he pledged to pay off the graduates’ student loans.
Smith, who is the founder, chairman and CEO of the private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, said he and his family would set up a fund that would clear the student loan debts of the class of nearly 400.
Smith was the 2015 recipient of the Pierre Toussaint medallion in the archdiocese, which was presented by Cardinal Dolan in Harlem that November in recognition of his global philanthropic work. During that time, Smith made an individual donation of $100,000 to the Pierre Toussaint Scholarship Program.
Administered by the archdiocesan Office of Black Ministry, the Pierre Toussaint Scholarship Fund provides scholarships to graduating high school seniors of diverse backgrounds from public, private and parochial schools throughout the archdiocese to assist them with the educational fees and expenses associated with their college studies. Additionally, the Pierre Toussaint Scholarship Program provides mentorship and support to student leaders who attend colleges and universities throughout the country. Pierre Toussaint scholars major in various fields of study, including engineering, education, international relations, nursing, economics, pre-med, pre-law, film and marketing.