Former GV trustee gifts funds to support HBCU/HSI Pipeline


GVL / Max Ritchie

Payton Brazzil, Staff Writer

​​Dr. William “Bill” Pickard recently gifted $800,000 to help support Grand Valley State University’s Historically Black College/University and Hispanic Serving Institution (HBCU/HSI) Pipeline Consortium.

The donation will also help to aid students from Genesee, Kent, Oakland and Wayne counties.

According to GVSU’s website, the purpose of the HBCU/HSI Pipeline Consortium is to collaborate with HBCUs and HSIs to help create more opportunities for students of minoritized populations to find “real, meaningful positions while simultaneously expanding talent pipelines in West Michigan.”

Pickard’s gift created two funds, the Lubbers and Pickard Endowment and the Dr. William F. Pickard Pathway to Education Fund. 

The Lubbers and Pickard Endowment will be invested for future students studying through GVSU and the Dr. William F. Pickard Pathway to Education Fund will be distributed annually.

Not only does Pickard support the HBCU/HSI Pipeline Consortium, but he was also instrumental in helping GVSU’s first HBCU partnership with Fort Valley State University (FVSU). 

There are now seven FVSU students who are currently enrolled in master’s degree programs at GVSU. 

Saint Augustine’s University has also joined with GVSU as a second HBCU.

VP for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, B. Donta Truss, said prospective students would benefit from the new HBCU/HSI Pipeline.

“We are working with historically black colleges and universities to ensure that there is a partnership that allows these students to take advantage of GVSU and the robust academic portfolio we offer,” Truss said. “So, the students can be at an HBCU and graduate and then pipeline into our programs here.”

GVSU is also working with more universities in hopes of partnering with several other HBCU/HSI programs. 

Pickard is a business and civic leader in the Detroit metropolitan area and has been an entrepreneur for 30 years. He was also a member of GVSU’s Board of Trustees (1977-1989) for 11 years and his lifetime support for students exceeds $1 million. 

Pickard said the two funds were created out of Pickard’s gratitude to President Emeritus Arend “Don” Lubbers, founder Bill Seidman and others who inspired him to become an entrepreneur and pay his success forward. 

President Philomena V. Mantella said Pickard’s contributions will help provide opportunities for future students and continue to diversify GVSU.

“Dr. Pickard’s gift allows the university to enroll and graduate an increasingly diverse group of talented and deserving learners from underrepresented backgrounds, fueling our vision of an inclusive and equitable community that fosters and sustains a sense of belonging, and promotes diversity and respect,” Mantella said.

In addition to the funds going towards the pipeline, they also create more scholarship opportunities for students that face financial barriers.

“His funds will allow some students that possibly could not afford to come to GVSU,” Truss said. “It removes a financial burden and ultimately it is the beginning of a great relationship with Dr. Pickard and others who are interested in assisting students with removing financial barriers and having access to higher education.”

Currently, the pipeline collaborates with two HBCU programs and is working towards collaborating with an HSI program. Through the pipeline GVSU offers many opportunities to prospective students such as scholarships and advisors.