Power up: Entergy donates $2 Million to Southern University; Governor Edwards vows Louisiana will match.

SUS President-Chancellor, Dr. Ray L. Belton shakes hands with Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Entergy Corporation, Leo Denault, before addressing the audience at the Special Grant Announcement in the Royal Cotillion Ballroom of the Smith-Brown Memorial Union on Monday, September 10. (Courtney Jacobs/DIGEST)

On Monday, September 10 Southern University announced a partnership with Entergy, a well-known energy provider for the Gulf Coast region: Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Dating back to 1913, Entergy has developed a massive footprint in the south and is on the rise right here in our backyard.

Providing a true Southern welcome, Katara Williams began the program, “We are Southern. We are the nation’s only Historically Black College System … and we are very excited that you are here with us as we officially announce that Entergy has granted Southern University $2 million,” said Williams as the audience erupted in applause.

“Two million dollars to support engineering education right here on our Baton Rouge campus. This partnership will power,” Williams joked, “not only the engineering students who are currently matriculating in our programs, but those who choose this career path for years and years to come.”

Entergy has granted the university $2 million for the funding of building infrastructure in the Engineering department, internships, scholarships, and initiatives that will ultimately benefit the students in the P.B.S. Pinchback building.

Williams was followed by Entergy Chairman, Leo Denault, who approached the podium to offer a word of solidification, establishing a clear-cut assertion about the partnership between the company and Southern University.

He went on to highlight exactly why the $2 million grant is not only beneficial to the university, but to all four of the company’s stakeholders and those who invest in the university as well. Denault asserted that Entergy does, in fact, need students who come from Engineering programs like Southern’s to take the company to greater heights.

Denault posed the question, “How did that $2 million that we’re contributing to Southern University benefit all four of our stakeholders?” to which he proudly answered, “New technologies are on the forefront that are going to change the way we do business and interact with our customers. We need the best, the brightest, the most talented, and most importantly, people who want to work here and help us create an environment where we represent the rich diversity of the service territory that we have here along the Gulf South. We’ll have young people that we bring in to the workforce who are local and represent those customers. When they represent those customers, they help us evolve more quickly to help us be better and better for our customers.”

As one of only two Fortune 500 Companies in Louisiana, Entergy brings in over $11 billion in revenue, currently maintains roughly 5000 employees, and is striving to grow and change with the ever-changing educational and technological era.

Denault introduced Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, who humorously began by referencing the potential natural disaster the state recently dodged. “We’re not talking about power restoration because of a storm,” Edwards joked, knocking on wood.

Edwards expressed how proud he was to have Louisiana house the only HBCU System in the country, and announced that the state of Louisiana will generously match the $2 million, with a special investment in Fisher Hall -- a building that is home to many STEM majors.

“It’s an investment in the university, but really into the lives of the future workforce,” said Edwards.

News of the grant traveled quickly and was widely appreciated by faculty and students alike. Mechanical Engineering major, Jonathon Banks from Sacramento, California expressed a personal sentiment, “I am very grateful for the grant given to the Engineering department because it allows for the department to reach out to even more companies and [host] even more informational sessions for all Engineering students to attend in hopes of gaining an internship.” As a Junior, Banks is one of many jags who are preparing to enter the workforce, seeking as much enrichment as possible.

The program welcomed more speakers and Entergy left the building with two clear motives: supporting the workforce of the future and powering life.

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