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Alum, ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith gives back to WSSU

By Dysheada Reid
On February 22, 2016

Stephen A. Smith pledged a gift of $250,000 to Winston-Salem State during the fundraiser  -- “Bond. Score. Win!” on Jan. 20.    

Smith said he wanted 50 percent of his donation to be given to the Athletics Department and 50 percent the Communications and Media Studies Department.      

Smith is an ESPN sports commentator for First Take. He is also an NBA analyst on SportsCenter and NBA Countdown and has his own radio show.     

Smith is a 1991 graduate and former WSSU basketball player. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications. And he wrote for The News Argus.      

Marilyn Roseboro, a former director of public relations and retired WSSU professor, was deemed by Smith as his “Winston-Salem mother.”  

Roseboro said she had always seen a journalistic spark in Smith.      

She met Smith when he enrolled in her News Writing and Reporting class.         

“As you might imagine, he was more outspoken than most students. He loved to talk, but it wasn’t just empty rhetoric. Stephen did his homework. He had an opinion, no matter the topic,” Roseboro said.

She said she and Smith clashed from time to time, but he grew to trust her as one of his mentors.   

Roseboro said she loves and respects Smith for never turning away requests from his alma mater.    

“For example, one year we called him to speak for the annual Mass Communications Conference. He came at his own expense and spent an entire day when his schedule was packed with travel plans and appointments,” Roseboro said.    

Smith’s $250,000  gift will be divided into $50,000 increments and dispersed over a period of five years.    

The first installment is expected July 1, the beginning of the University’s fiscal year, said Michelle Cook, vice chancellor for advancement and executive director of the WSSU Foundation.    

Cook said donors can choose whether they want their gift to be scholarships, emergency funds, endowed or non-endowed. 

Cook said she would suggest the donation be used as scholarships for athletes and the CMS majors.    

Smith’s gift could be used as an endowment. An endowment refers to a donation that remains in perpetuity -- gaining interest -- with an establishment.

According to Cook, approximately $10,000 to $12,000 worth of interest could be gained per year on the $250,000.     

Brian Blount, CMS department chair, said the donation could be used for scholarships.    

Blount said he would also purchase new equipment and software.    

“I am very excited and appreciate the gift from Smith,” he said.   

Roseboro said  Smith has a tough exterior but is truly a soft-hearted guy.

“You can tell he cares because of how he gives his time and money.”

“Just don’t abuse either of them,” she said.

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