PULLMAN, Wash. — William H. Gray III, president and chief executive officer of the United Negro College Fund, will be the keynote speaker at Washington State University’s President’s Convocation on Thursday, Oct. 16. The public convocation kicks off the WSU Foundation Annual Meeting of Members and Campaign WSU celebration.
Following an all-faculty processional from the Compton Union Building, the convocation will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Bryan Auditorium.
As head of America’s oldest and most successful black higher education assistance organization, Gray has led The College Fund to new fund-raising records while cutting costs and expanding programs and services. Approximately one-third of the more than $1.2 billion raised in The College Fund’s 53-year history has been given during Gray’s tenure.
Prior to his selection as president of UNCF in 1991, Gray served in the U.S. Congress and made his mark as a supporter of education. As chairman of the Democratic Caucus and later as Majority Whip, Gray was the highest-ranking African American ever to serve in Congress. He was an advocate for historically black colleges and universities through his support of set-aside programs at the U.S. Agency for International Development. He was also a co-sponsor of the Black College Act, which provides formula-driven federal funds for the enhancement of historically black college programs, faculty and facilities. As the first African American to chair the House Budget Committee, Gray was an advocate for strengthening America’s educational systems.
Hailing from a family of educators as well as ministers, Gray has been a faculty member and professor of religion at St. Peter’s College, Jersey City State College, Montclair State College, Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Temple University. He has been pastor of the 5,000 member Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia for more than 20 years, as were his father and grandfather before him.
Sponsored by the WSU Foundation, the President’s Convocation is held at the beginning of Homecoming weekend each year. Members of the WSU Foundation – donors to the University of $1,000 or more annually – will attend meetings and presentations with students, faculty and staff throughout the weekend. On Friday night, the Foundation will celebrate the conclusion of Campaign WSU, the University’s first comprehensive fund-raising campaign which raised more than $275 million.