On Tuesday, May 25, 2021, Southern University alumnus and Southern University System Foundation (SUSF) Trustee Irving Matthews will gift $1M to expand programming creating the Southern University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center. The gift will also provide seed funding for the construction of a new state-of-the-art 14,000 square foot building that will house the Center’s operations.
In recognition of his gift, the Center will be named the Matthews Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. His philanthropic efforts benefitting Southern University spans three decades totaling $916K. With this gift, Matthews’ lifetime giving to Southern will exceed $2M.
“I believe that the long-term success of Southern University is tied to the support it receives from the students that attended the University,” Matthews said. “It is imperative that all alums give back to the University that has given so much to them. Southern has been there for us, so let’s keep it around for future generations. I will forever be committed to giving back to my cherished alma mater.”
The current Southern University Innovation Center is a collaboration between the Southern University System Foundation and Southern University and A&M College. In 2012, the SUSF received an award of $1.2 million from the Economic Development Administration to construct the Innovation Center at Southern. The Innovation Center nurtures the development of entrepreneurial companies, helping them survive and grow during the start-up period when they are most vulnerable. These programs provide their client companies with business support services and resources tailored to young firms.
“I say with tremendous gratitude, on behalf of the entirety of the SU System, how profoundly grateful we are for Mr. Irving Matthews’ generosity and his unselfish giving as a dedicated alumnus of Southern University,” said Ray L. Belton, president-chancellor of the Southern University System. “His benevolence to the System Foundation, in the form of large and enduring gifts, supports an important vision and creates a lasting legacy that will benefit generations to come. We thank him for his commitment to Southern University and to our mission of offering quality educational programs, conducting innovative research, and promoting valuable community engagement.”
Matthews earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering technology. He is the president and owner of The Matthews Automotive Group, employing more than 300 employees, consisting of four automobile dealerships representing four franchises — Ford, Kia, Toyota, and Mazda.
Alfred Harrell, Southern University System Foundation CEO, echoed Belton’s sentiments, “Irving’s leadership at the governance level at Southern and other HBCUs continue to play a pivotal role in the growth and development of students, faculty, and University programming. We are profoundly grateful for his generosity, and I’m glad to know him as both a friend and mentor.”
This is the second $1M gift directed to the University in a month. Last week alumnus Mark and Dawn Malveaux made a gift of $1M to establish an endowed scholarship in College of Business at the University.
Construction of the Matthews facility is expected to be complete in late 2022.
The press conference and gift announcement is scheduled for Tuesday, May 25, at noon on the front of the lawn of the Southern University Innovation Center located at 616 Harding Blvd. Baton Rouge, LA 70807.