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Elizabeth Miller Strickland donates $12 million to High Point University endowment

HIGH POINT — High Point University has received a $12 million gift from Elizabeth “Betty” Miller Strickland, the largest donation to the school’s endowment in its 96-year history.

The gift was announced Wednesday with the 100th anniversary of Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates the 19th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing a woman’s right to vote. It will establish the Elizabeth Miller Strickland Women’s Leadership Fund and the Elizabeth Miller Strickland Endowed Scholarship Fund.

“We have a commitment to broaden our impact locally, nationally and across the globe,” HPU President Nido Qubein said. “This includes identifying the impact we can have in promoting equity in all forms, and Betty Strickland has generously provided us the opportunity to demonstrate specific leadership in the advancement of women. We can achieve this with faithful courage and the willingness to empower students, especially our young women, to become strong leaders of tomorrow. We are forever grateful for Betty’s generosity and commitment to help students pursue a holistic education at HPU.”

Betty attended High Point College, where she was crowned Miss High Point College in 1952. She strongly believes in investing in an education that equips students with the values HPU upholds.

“HPU has come so far since I attended, it’s unrecognizable,” says Strickland. “I want to be a part of the values being taught and fostered at the university.”

Betty and her late husband, Bob, who passed away in 2018, met when she was only 12 years old at a Boy Scout party and later married in 1952.

“We were best friends,” says Strickland about her 66-year marriage to Bob. “When you marry your best friend, you just have fun and we did.”

After serving in the United States Navy, Bob began a two-year commitment as Lowe’s director of advertising that turned into a 40-year career, with Bob retiring as chairman of the board of Lowe’s in 1997. He was named chairman emeritus in 1999.

“He loved anything to do with education,” Strickland said “I wish I could share the excitement of this gift to HPU with him, but I know it is something he would support wholeheartedly.”

Strickland’s support of HPU comes months after Qubein announced a 10-year, $1 billion transformational growth plan that includes a commitment of $700 million for scholarships.

“I deeply believe in High Point University and want students to realize their dream of attending a God, Family and Country university can come true,” Strickland said. “My husband, Bob, and I have always believed that you don’t go to college to simply learn how to make a living, but you also go to college to learn how to live. HPU’s mentorship model and practice of equipping students with life skills allow that to happen.”

Elizabeth Miller Strickland Women’s Leadership Fund

The Elizabeth Miller Strickland Women’s Leadership Fund will provide a platform to inspire the achievement of gender equality. A newly formed Elizabeth M. Strickland Women’s Leadership Council will steward Mrs. Strickland’s mission, intent and values, and will work to identify and overcome barriers women face in leadership roles, entrepreneurship and economic opportunities, and education.

The desired outcome associated with the creation of the Elizabeth Miller Strickland Women’s Leadership Fund is to provide inspiration, mentorship and opportunities for young women to achieve their dreams. The Elizabeth Miller Strickland Leadership Council will develop seminars and programs focused on issues relevant to women in business, leadership and entrepreneurship.

“I want women to be educated in empowering one another. It hurts me to see a woman who has the ability to pursue a job not get the position,” says Strickland. “Bob and I believed we had to do what we could to try to change that.”

Bob always admired women in leadership roles after being raised by a single mother who was a teacher and North Carolina School Supervisor.

Each year, The Elizabeth Miller Strickland Trailblazer Award will be given at Honors Day to a graduating female student who epitomizes the qualities of hard work, passion for service, perseverance and determination. The winner will be required to donate a portion of the cash award to a charity of her choice.

Elizabeth Miller Strickland Endowed Scholarship

The Elizabeth Miller Strickland Endowed Scholarship Fund will provide scholarships for students of all genders, with a focus on students returning to High Point University, who demonstrate both financial need and a background of success on campus in their early college years.

“It means something to me, as it would to Bob, that we are helping students at HPU thrive in their educational journey,” says Strickland.

In recognition of this gift, and in recognition of the importance of scholarship in philanthropy, High Point University is creating the Elizabeth Miller Strickland Scholarship Plaza. The Scholarship Plaza will celebrate, recognize and inspire existing and future endowment donors, while also providing a location for students to reflect on the impact of philanthropy in their own lives and academic pursuits. Three sculptures depicting recent HPU graduates in their cap and gown will be installed in the Plaza later this fall.

A formal dedication of the Scholarship Plaza will take place at a future date.

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