Empowering Students to Change the World

Richardson gift supports first-gen Mississippi Delta students

UM alumnus William M. Richardson III (center), of San Francisco, has created a scholarship endowment for first-generation students at the university. He recently visited campus with his father, William ‘Bill’ Richardson Jr. (left), a 1968 graduate of the Ole Miss School of Law, and his sons, Benjamin ‘Benny’ Richardson and William ‘Liam’ Richardson IV. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi alumnus William M. Richardson III knows that access to financial support can make all the difference in the lives of first-generation college students.

“I recognize there are many students who may not have financial support but could do amazing things in the world if only they are given the opportunity,” said Richardson, of San Francisco, who graduated magna cum laude in 2000 with an undergraduate degree in marketing.

This desire to provide students with educational access led Richardson to commit $25,000 to establish the William M. Richardson III Endowment at the university and an additional $25,000 to further grow the endowment.

The scholarship will provide first-generation freshmen from the Mississippi Delta area with support for tuition, room and board for four years.

“I believe education is the key to solving the challenges of our time and beyond,” said Richardson, CEO of Richardson Financial, Wealth Management and Insurance Services.

“If we can help people get access to a great education, it will pay dividends for many generations to come.”

Brett Barefoot, senior director of development for parent and family leadership, expressed appreciation to Richardson.

“We’re very grateful for this gift from Will because the financial support of scholarship endowments like his combined with the academic and social programs we have at Ole Miss, such as StudentsFIRST and the First-Gen Network, will create so many opportunities for our state’s first-generation students,” he said.

A 2021 campus climate survey showed that nearly a third of the Ole Miss student body was composed of first-generation college students.

“Being the first people from their families to attend college, many of our students are great examples of resiliency,” said Michael Smith, academic adviser at the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience and StudentsFIRST program coordinator. “They have to be highly motivated to face the challenges ahead of them.”

Richardson is excited about the part his endowment will play in the lives of future students.

“Ole Miss was a great place to learn and connect for me,” he said. “I want to do my part in helping others benefit from receiving a great education from the university and making lifelong friends like I was able to do while there.

“This scholarship can alter the trajectory of its recipients, and I’m humbled and honored to be able to play a role in helping Ole Miss empower students to change the world!”

The William M. Richardson III Endowment is open to support from organizations and individuals. Gifts can be made by sending a check, with the fund’s name noted on the memo line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655, or by giving online at https://give.olemiss.edu.

For more information about establishing a scholarship endowment or supporting first-generation college students, contact Brett Barefoot at bmbarefo@olemiss.edu or 662-915-2711.