This announcement was emailed to students, faculty and staff by President Hatch on Oct. 2:
Dear Wake Forest Students, Faculty and Staff,
Like you, I woke up to the heartbreaking news from Las Vegas about the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. I hesitated to send the announcement below, which is a celebration of one man’s generosity and how it will help aspiring Wake Forest students. Upon reflection, putting good news into the world today felt right.
My thoughts and prayers are with those of you with loved ones in Las Vegas and everyone impacted by last night’s tragedy.
It is with deep gratitude that I share the news of one man’s generosity and the opportunity it will create for generations of future Wake Forest students.
Porter B. Byrum (JD ’42), an attorney, businessman and philanthropist from Charlotte, N.C., passed away in March at the age of 96. Mr. Byrum attended Wake Forest on a scholarship and was passionate about affording others the same opportunity he had for a quality education. In a concluding act of generosity that will make college more affordable and accessible for others like him, he left Wake Forest approximately half of his estate – more than $70 million – to support financial aid. I encourage you to read more about his extraordinary gift.
No person has been a more generous benefactor to Wake Forest than Mr. Byrum, whose lifetime philanthropy to Wake Forest totaled more than $120 million. Throughout his life, Mr. Byrum was known to have talked about two foundational beliefs: education opens doors to vast opportunity, and helping others is the key to a meaningful and well-lived life. Not only did he give generously of himself, but he encouraged others to do the same.
To honor Mr. Byrum’s legacy, Wake Forest will initiate the Byrum Challenge to rally our alumni and friends to the cause for which he cared so deeply. Hundreds of talented students have earned Byrum Scholarships to help them attend Wake Forest with as little debt as possible. Now Wake Forest intends to set ambitious goals to enhance the scholarship endowment in keeping with his passion to create opportunities for aspiring young people.
Porter Byrum will forever be remembered at Wake Forest University as a loyal friend, grateful for the gift of education, and committed to granting young people the opportunity that he was given so many years ago. His legacy – and ours – lives through our students and the next generation of leaders yet to enter the admissions and welcome center that bear his name.
Nathan O. Hatch