News Center

Back to News Center

Morrisville College Foundation to host "Benefactor of the Year" event

Dr. Sheila Johnson, first African-American owner/partner of three professional sports franchises, is honoree
MORRISVILLE, NY – July 27, 2005 – The Morrisville College Foundation (MCF) will honor one of its greatest supporters during an inaugural “Benefactor of the Year” event on Sept. 12 in the OnCenter Grand Ballroom in Syracuse.

The event, a celebration of charitable support of higher education, will honor Dr. Sheila Johnson, co-founder of the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Network and the first African-American owner/ partner of three professional sports franchises. Johnson is the president of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and a part owner of the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards.

In 2002, Johnson donated $1 million to Morrisville State College for the creation of the Sheila Johnson Institute, whose mission is to provide support for diversity and character-building initiatives at the college.

“This night is about thanking those remarkable individuals, like Sheila, for including Morrisville State College in their annual charitable giving,” Richard Bartlett, chairman of the MCF Board, said. “By providing scholarships for approximately 30 Sheila Johnson Fellows each year and supporting other diversity-oriented programming on campus, Sheila’s support epitomizes the generosity of so many whom have helped to elevate our over-all fundraising efforts to a level never seen before by the college.”

MCF Board member, Marilyn Higgins, of Syracuse, and longtime college benefactor, Patricia Smith, of Norwich, are honorary chairpersons of the event.

“I am amazed at all the great developments taking place at Morrisville State College, and I absolutely love working with the MCF Board. This event will give us all a special opportunity to thank Sheila, and inform the greater Syracuse community about all the wonderful things taking place just 30 miles to the southeast,” Higgins said.

A 6:30 p.m. cocktail reception will be followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Local anchor Matt Mulcahy, of UPN 6 News in Syracuse, will serve as master of ceremonies for the evening.

After dinner, a performance by the Urban Nation H.I.P.-H.O.P Choir, of Washington, D.C., will be conducted by Emmy Award-winning composer, Rickey Payton, Sr. The choir, made up of 13- to 18-year-old men and women, have performed at the White House and have shared the stage with such notable performers as Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Oprah Winfrey, Sean “P.Diddy” Combs and Wayne Newton. The group is named for the acronym Hope, Integrity, Power – Helping Our People, and has a mission to channel the creative and artistic energies of youth and foster excellence in all facets of their lives.

Tickets for the event are $150 per person or $1,000 per table of 10. Individuals and corporations are invited to sponsor a table for a group of local high school students for $800.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Morrisville College Foundation. For more information, call James Hastie, executive director, at 315-684-6030.

The Morrisville College Foundation was founded in 1976 to raise charitable gifts from private and corporate sources. Its efforts enable Morrisville State College to carry its educational mission forward by providing students with state-of-the-art facilities, excellent faculty and one of the largest scholarship programs in the State University of New York system.