Over 100 grateful graduates of Wiley College received the news that every college graduate saddled with student loan debt wants to hear. At the commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 7, Wiley’s President & CEO Herman J. Felton, Jr. J.D., Ph.D. announced that an anonymous donor had picked up the tab for the graduating class’ outstanding student loan debt. That generous donation was no small feat. According to a Wiley College press release, the estimated balance owed by the class of 2022 was nearly $300,000.
Wiley’s President and CEO says the school is committed to helping students get their post-grad lives off to a good start, which often means turning to potential donors for support. “Our commitment to our students goes beyond their time while they are enrolled. We are constantly communicating with donors to assist students in these ways so that they can begin their after-college experience with less debt. We are grateful for this anonymous donor who will assist the students in paying off their balances to Wiley College and help us achieve institutional goals of graduating our students with little to no debt,” he said in the press release.
Wiley College is a historically Black liberal arts college located in Marshall, Texas. Founded in 1873, the school is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. If the name is familiar, you may remember the story of their now infamous debate team. In 1935, students from the small HBCU defeated the University of Southern California’s top-ranked debate team during a time of extreme racial segregation in the United States. The two schools had a rematch of the historic debate in 2012.
The debate team’s outstanding accomplishment inspired the 2007 film “The Great Debaters,” starring Denzel Washington and Forrest Whitaker. USC is depicted as Harvard in the film, because, Hollywood. Wiley College’s motto is “Go forth Inspired.”