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Richardson gift supports first-gen Mississippi Delta students
William M. Richardson III of San Francisco, California, center, has created a scholarship endowment for first-generation students at the University of Mississippi. Pictured with him are his father, William “Bill” Richardson Jr., a 1968 graduate of the Ole Miss School of Law, from left, and his sons, Benjamin “Benny” Richardson, and William “Liam” Richardson IV.

University of Mississippi alumnus William M. Richardson III of San Francisco, California, knows that access to financial support can make all the difference in the lives of first-generation college students.

“I recognize there are many students who may not have financial support but could do amazing things in the world if only they are given the opportunity,” said Richardson, who graduated from Ole Miss Magna Cum Laude in 2000 with an undergraduate degree in marketing.

This desire to provide students with educational access led Richardson to commit $25,000 to establish the William M. Richardson III Endowment at the University of Mississippi and an additional $25,000 to further grow the endowment.

The scholarship will provide first-generation freshmen from the Mississippi Delta area with support for tuition, room and board for four years.

“I believe education is the key to solving the challenges of our time and beyond,” continued Richardson, CEO of Richardson Financial, Wealth Management and Insurance Services.

“If we can help people get access to a great education, it will pay dividends for many generations to come.”

Brett Barefoot, senior director of development for parent and family leadership, expressed appreciation to Richardson.

“We’re very grateful for this gift from Will because the financial support of scholarship endowments like his combined with the academic and social programs we have at Ole Miss, such as StudentsFIRST and the First-Gen Network, will create so many opportunities for our state’s first-generation students,” he said.

A 2021 campus climate survey showed that nearly a third of UM’s Oxford campus was composed of first-generation college students.

“Being the first people from their families to attend college, many of our students are great examples of resiliency,” said Michael Smith, academic adviser at the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience and StudentsFIRST program coordinator. “They have to be highly motivated to face the challenges ahead of them.”

Richardson is excited about the part his endowment will play in the lives of future students.

“Ole Miss was a great place to learn and connect for me,” said Richardson. “I want to do my part in helping others benefit from receiving a great education from the university and making life-long friends like I was able to do while there.

“This scholarship can alter the trajectory of its recipients, and I’m humbled and honored to be able to play a role in helping Ole Miss empower students to change the world!”

The William M. Richardson III Endowment is open to support from organizations and individuals. Gifts can be made by sending a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the fund’s name noted on the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655 or by giving online at

For more information about establishing a scholarship endowment or supporting first-generation college students, contact Brett Barefoot at or 662-915-2711.

By Mary Stanton Knight


Online gifts for the 2024 calendar year should be made no later than noon on December 31, 2024.  Checks by mail will need to be postmarked by December 31 to be counted in the 2024 calendar year.