VSU dedicates Reginald F. Lewis College of Business

10/22/2013, 10:50 a.m.
Lewis took the business world by storm when he acquired McCall Pattern Company for $22.5 million and sold it three ...
Reginald F. Lewis’ mother, Carolyn Fugett (L) and wife, Loida Lewis, join RFLCB Dean Dr. Mirta Martin at the unveiling of the official college portrait in VSU's Singleton Hall

— In announcing the first named-college in school history, Virginia State University President Keith T. Miller described Reginald F. Lewis, VSU Class of 1965, as “a shining example of giving back.”

At the ceremony marking the official dedication of the Reginald F. Lewis College of Business (RFLCB), President Miller said Lewis’ gift to VSU will impact students for generations.

“Future students,” he said, “will be attending a college transformed by the generosity and vision of its namesake.”

Several members of Reginald Lewis’ family attended the dedication, including his wife, Mrs. Loida Lewis; mother, Ms. Carolyn Fugett; Beverly Cooper, aunt and Vice President of the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation; and brother, Anthony Lewis.

Reginald Lewis, his wife said, “was always accepting of new things. The new College of Business is what he was about.”

In January, 2010, The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, Inc. committed a $1.5 million grant to VSU, the largest private donation in school history. The gift supports student scholarships; student travel related to academic pursuits; faculty travel and supplemental sabbatical support; and a prize to be given to a student who, upon graduation, demonstrates the highest level of academic achievement from sophomore through senior year.

Reginald F. Lewis came to VSU on an athletic scholarship and was a quarterback on the football team, until an injury ended his athletic career. He was also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. After graduation, he attended Harvard Law School.

Lewis took the business world by storm when he acquired McCall Pattern Company for $22.5 million and sold it three years later for a $50 million profit. Lewis’ most impressive business deal came in 1987, when he managed a billion-dollar, leveraged buyout of Beatrice International Foods, a global conglomerate. That deal, Black Enterprise magazine said, made Lewis the most successful black entrepreneur in the history of the United States.

Lewis died from brain cancer at the early age of 50. At the time of his death, Forbes magazine listed him among the 400 wealthiest Americans. He was also the first African American to build a billion dollar company.

Lewis’ mother, Carolyn Fugett said her son realized early the importance of philanthropy. “He understood that when you do for others, you get it in return in so many ways.”

After touring the RFLCB, including the college’s real-time Trading Center, and meeting with the College’s faculty and administration. Fugett said Reginald Lewis would be proud of the impact his gift has made. “He would be filled with joy to be supporting a college where people say what they mean and mean what they say,” she said.

For six consecutive years, the RFLCB has been accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the premier global accrediting body for schools that offer undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in business and accounting. Fewer than 10 percent of the world’s business schools have achieved business and/or accounting accreditation from AACSB International.

In the past year, the RFLCB has received several state and national awards, including the Governor’s Technology Award for Innovation in Higher Education and the RichTech Technology Innovation Deployment Award. The RFLCB was also named the “Best Business Program at an HBCU” by The Center for HBCU Media Advocacy.

The RFLCB chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma international honor society has been honored as a Premier Chapter, with 100 percent of the students qualifying for membership at both undergraduate and graduate levels accepting the invitation to join this prestigious international honor society for collegiate Schools of Business.