In a concluding act of extraordinary generosity that will make college more affordable and accessible for generations of students, Porter B. Byrum (JD ’42) has donated more than $70 million to Wake Forest University for scholarships.
Byrum’s latest gift – the largest in Wake Forest’s history – is approximately half of a bequest of more than $140 million for student financial aid. The rest will be divided equally between Queens University of Charlotte and Wingate University.
The late Charlotte attorney, businessman, philanthropist and alumnus was a champion of higher education, and this gift furthers his legacy of creating opportunity for deserving students. He died in March at the age of 96.
No person has been a more generous benefactor to Wake Forest, whose lifetime giving totaled more than $120 million.
His generosity spanned the course of decades, and because of him, more than 350 Wake Forest students have been afforded the same opportunity for the quality education he appreciated so much. Notably, in 2011, he donated the Park Road Shopping Center in Charlotte to Wake Forest, Queens and Wingate.
“Out of a life of gratitude overflows generosity, and there is no greater example of that than Porter Byrum. He never forgot the gift of a Wake Forest education he was offered, and in his gratitude, he made it possible for others to experience what he did.” Nathan O. Hatch, president
“More than anything, Porter loved spotting potential – be it in an employee, a business deal, a piece of land or a young person – and providing an opportunity for that potential to grow. His greatest joy was not in the recognition of what he had given, but rather, in watching what those who were given an opportunity would do with it,” Hatch said.
In addition to numerous scholarships that bear his name, Byrum (JD ’42) served as a member of the Law Board of Visitors, received the Carroll Weathers Award – the Law School’s highest honor – and received the Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2011, Wake Forest named its new admissions building the Porter B. Byrum Welcome Center and his portrait hangs near the entranceway.
Alicía Colón is a senior psychology major from Charlotte. She had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Byrum at a scholarship brunch in 2014.
“During that event, we had a great talk and I like to believe that he enjoyed my company and our talk as much as I did,” she said. “As a recipient of the Byrum Scholarship, I have had the wonderful opportunity to attend Wake Forest University.”
“Without his help and generosity, I would have never had the experience, education, the chance to succeed nor the ability to achieve my goals as I did here. I hope that I can do the same for others as he did for me in the future.” Alicía Colón ('18)
Current and past scholarship recipients echoed Colón’s gratitude.
To honor Byrum’s legacy, Wake Forest will initiate the Byrum Challenge to rally alumni and friends to the cause for which he cared so deeply. Wake Forest intends to set ambitious goals to enhance the scholarship endowment in keeping with his passion to create opportunities for aspiring young people.