Donna Ruth Else Roberts is giving from example—one of the latest in a flurry of generous gifts through the Ole Miss Women’s Council.
The “connect” for her was immediate: She said she has understood the importance of college scholarships her entire life—her father was not able to attend college but became a successful businessman and well-known philanthropist
“This is a good way to continue his tradition,” she said about her new scholarship.
The $100,000 scholarship endowment is coming from Roberts, who lives in Oxford with her husband, H. Wilson Roberts, Jr., and has supported University activities for many years.
Her scholarship will be aimed at assisting deserving students who are pursuing a major within the School of Business Administration. The recipient will follow the same course of leadership development and mentoring as the inaugural Women’s Council scholarship class, which entered Ole Miss this fall.
“This generous gift by Mrs. Roberts is the kind of private support that makes all the difference in public education. It not only provides golden opportunities for individual students but also strengthens the business school as a whole and, consequently, the entire state,” said Michael Harvey, dean of the Ole Miss business school.
“We are especially thankful for this local commitment to our educational mission. There is no place like home,” Harvey said.
Roberts credits business school major gifts officer Vicki Sneed with issuing the invitation to attend a Women’s Council luncheon to hear about its plans. She liked what she heard immediately.
“I feel very fortunate to have the means to provide (the scholarship),” she said.
Her interest in tying the scholarship to the business school came from her days at Ole Miss. She wasn’t a business major—in the mid-1960s there weren’t many women involved with the business school.
Instead, Roberts majored in English, even though she was not interested in teaching, she said. But she quickly realized how useful a business-related education could have been as she worked in
several business environments until her husband asked her to help him in his real estate development company in the 1970s.
“I just feel led to get women more involved in business,” she said. “No matter what career you’re in, even in just reading the newspaper, you pick up so much with a business degree or exposure to business principles.”
Today, she says she’s “retired” after moving to Oxford about a year and a half ago. But she still enjoys using her creativity within her husband’s company, helping new homeowners with their design work.
“It’s just so important to get a college degree—even go to graduate school,” she said. “There is just nothing better than to help people go to college.”