Large donation highlights gala


The attendees of the 2nd Annual Port City Gala were bowled over when Grambling received a donation of $205,000 from Willis-Knighton Health System. 

The check, presented by James Elrod, the president and CEO of the company, is intended to be used to fund three endowed professorships in health at the university.

“At Willis-Knighton, we believe our service to be a ministry of healing,” Elrod told the gala audience. 

“We’ve been blessed to grow into the largest hospital in about a six-state region.  But we’re also aware that to whom much is given much is required.”

Frank G. Pogue, president of Grambling State University, said the donation could be the largest in recent memory.  

The donation couldn’t come at a better time since the university has recently been hit by a $2.5 million budget cut and is expecting further cuts throughout the school year. 

“Good things are happening at Grambling State University, and this is a really big thing,” said Pogue

“This donation will help us continue to attract high-level faculty in the health care area, further helping us enhance our academic profile and providing students with the type of quality education they deserve.”

Of the $205,000 donation, $180,000 will go toward the professorships, while $25,000 served as the Gala’s largest sponsor from the health care provider.

“It will be used to attract new faculty, and keep the current outstanding professors we already have,”  said Interim Vice President for Institutional Advancement Kenoye K. Eke Sr.. 

Eke added that the university had received the check in July and wanted to publicize Willis-Knighton’s gift at the Port City Gala, apart of weekend events held for the Port City Classic football game 

The professorships are being named after Sen. Gregory Tarver, for a professorship in nursing education; Shreveport Councilman Joe Shyne, for a professorship in nursing practice, and Nila Wilhoite, for a health administration professorship.

Eke said that the professorships could possibly be matched by the state, an additionally $40,000 per professorship. 

Eke said the university is filing the necessary paperwork. 

The historic moment was followed by announcing the nine recipients of the Beacon Awards, which are awarded to a hand chosen group of people that are selected on the basis of good character, humanitarianism, and a demonstration of leadership toward Grambling’s community.