Perdue gives $1.1 million to Salisbury State

May 12, 1994|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Eastern Shore Bureau of The Sun

SALISBURY -- Poultry magnate Frank Perdue, whose $2.4 million endowment in 1986 helped establish a business school named for him, returned to Salisbury State University yesterday with another gift.

It wasn't chicken feed this time, either.

Noting that his late father, Arthur Perdue, was notoriously frugal when it came to giving money to community causes, Mr. Perdue said that his new contribution of $1,050,000 would have shocked the founder of the family-run chicken business.

"It's probably a good thing he's no longer with us," he added, "because he'd probably drop dead."

Mr. Perdue, who joined his family's egg business in 1939, is responsible for turning the company into the nation's fourth largest poultry producer. Perdue Farms Inc. employs 13,500 people in eight states and processes more than 7 million chickens a week.

Mr. Perdue chairs the company board of directors' executive committee, and his son, Jim, is chairman of the board. Father and son are Salisbury State alumni.

University President Thomas E. Bellevance said Mr. Perdue's name and largess will help the business school draw students.

The money will go toward the business school's endowment, and will be drawn to create scholarships and improve on current scholarship programs.

Dr. Richard F. Bebee, dean of the Perdue School, said the business faculty has grown from 19 in 1986-1987, when Mr. Perdue's first gift was given, to 35 this academic year. The undergraduate majors have grown from 784 in that first year to 1,101 this year. At the graduate level, 49 were in the program initially, and 120 are enrolled this year.

The business school won accreditation last month from the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) for its undergraduate and graduate programs.

Mr. Perdue said that receiving the AACSB distinction, which makes Salisbury State the fourth institution in Maryland to have business-school accreditation at the undergraduate and graduate levels, helped him decide to give the school another significant financial contribution.

"That's the reason for the $1 million gift," he said. "I feel we should be as good as we can be."

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