ATLANTA—Philanthropists Ken and Kathryn Chenault have donated $1 million to Morehouse College to continue funding for the Dr. Hortenius Chenault Endowed Chair in Math and Science and support the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel Restoration Project.
The donation, gifts of $500,000 each, will benefit the education of students by expanding opportunities for teaching and learning at the nation’s only historically black college for men.
“Kathy and I are proud supporters of Morehouse College and its commitment to redefining the meaning of leadership by instilling in its students the critical and timeless core values of compassion, civility, and integrity,” said Ken Chenault, chairman and a managing director of the venture capital firm General Catalyst, and the former chairman and CEO of American Express. “We couldn’t be more pleased to continue to honor my dad’s memory through the Dr. Hortenius Chenault Endowed Chair in Math and Science and contribute to the restoration of the Chapel to ensure it persists in its important work of teaching excellence, ethics, equality and engagement for generations to come.”
The Dr. Hortenius Chenault Endowed Chair in Math and Science was established in 2005 by the Chenaults to help Morehouse increase innovation, research, and student engagement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The endowed chair is currently being held by Dr. Kinnis Gosha, Morehouse’s Division Chair for Experiential Learning and Interdisciplinary Studies. As the Dr. Hortenius Chenault Endowed Professor of Math and Science, Dr. Gosha has increased outreach to middle school students interested in STEM careers and launched a new undergraduate software engineering degree program that is among the first in the nation at an HBCU.
“The Chenault funds have empowered me as a professor to take my passion for computing to underrepresented youth in the Atlanta metropolitan area and expose them to a field that can be generation changing,” Gosha said. “Not only has this outreach had positive effects on the youth that we work with, it also has had a significant impact on our students at Morehouse. They find themselves learning how computing is not just a career but a way to have impact and build wealth in their communities.”
The Chenaults’ $500,000 gift to the Chapel Restoration Project helped Morehouse to reach the $8.3 million benchmark that was necessary for the College to qualify for matching construction funds. King Chapel is the nation’s only college-based chapel dedicated to the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr., Morehouse’s most prestigious alumnus. It has hosted events featuring world and national leaders, renowned professors, and entertainers. It also offers programming that teaches students the values of excellence, ethics, equality, and global citizenship in an effort to create moral cosmopolitan servant leaders and scholars, said Lawrence E. Carter Sr., the founding Dean of King Chapel and professor of religion.
The renovation project will upgrade the 41-year-old building by replacing its roof, electrical and plumbing systems, auditorium chairs, ceiling, flooring, lighting, and signage, as well as installing state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment. The project will also bring the building up to code to accommodate guests who are physically challenged.
“The generous donation from Ken and Kathryn Chenault will support innovation in STEM education and enable renovations to begin at King Chapel, the heart of Morehouse that houses our academic ceremonies, our worship services, and the student leadership forums that prepare our scholars for success,” said Dr. David A. Thomas, President of Morehouse College. "We appreciate the continued support of the Chenaults."