Saint Louis University (SLU) has launched two $10,000 annual scholarships named in honor of Donald M. Suggs, publisher and executive editor of The St. Louis American and president of the St. Louis American Foundation. In announcing the honor, SLU described Suggs as “a longtime St. Louis community leader and civil rights pioneer.”
Applications for the Suggs Scholarships, awarded for the 2020-2021 academic year, are being accepted now through June 1, with awardee decisions to be made in mid-June. The awards will go to SLU students in their junior or senior years, in good academic standing, from underrepresented racial or ethnic minorities who have financial need to complete their educations. Preference will be given to students from the St. Louis metropolitan area.
SLU stated that the annual scholarships are part of the university’s commitment to increase racial and ethnic diversity on its St. Louis campus.
“Throughout his long and distinguished career, Dr. Suggs has worked tirelessly to support diversity and inclusion in the St. Louis area and beyond,” said SLU President Fred P. Pestello. “We are pleased to announce these scholarships in his honor, and proud that Dr. Suggs is a former SLU faculty member and honorary degree recipient.”
An oral surgeon by training, Suggs was the first African American to serve as an associate clinical professor of oral surgery at Saint Louis University Dental School. In 1994, SLU awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
“It gives me great joy to know that we have added a Suggs Scholarship to the resources we have available for helping underrepresented students, especially those from St. Louis, continue and complete their education at Saint Louis University,” said Jonathan Smith, SLU’s vice president for Diversity and Community Engagement.
Suggs was born in East Chicago, Indiana and attended the public schools there. He graduated with B.S. and D.D.S. Degrees from Indiana University, then completed his post-graduate work at Washington University Dental School and Homer G. Phillips Hospital. He served as chief of oral surgery at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
Active in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and ‘70s, he served as chairman of the Poor People’s March-On-Washington in 1968. Later, he became founder and chairman of the African Continuum, organized to bring serious non-commercial African-American artistic endeavors to St. Louis. He was the first African American to serve as president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of St. Louis.
In addition to leading The St. Louis American, he is president of its foundation, which facilitates a number of scholarships throughout the region and state. More than $1.2 million in scholarships were awarded to 30 students in 2019 through the foundation and its partners. Since its inception in 1994, the St. Louis American Foundation and its partners have invested $7.2 million in education.
“I want to express, on behalf of the St. Louis American Foundation and myself, our collective gratitude to Dr. Fred Pestello and Saint Louis University for these very generous scholarships,” said Suggs. “Saint Louis University is showing, again, leadership by providing an opportunity for some high potential young people to gain an invaluable educational experience- an experience whose priorities are service and justice for everyone.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic still spreading nationally and in the region, the 2020-2021 academic year, when these scholarships will commence, remains an unknown. One thing is certain: with 33 million people filing for unemployment in the U.S. since the pandemic struck, there is more financial need than ever.
“It has never been more vital for colleges and universities to assist good students who have financial need,” said Kathleen Davis, vice president for enrollment and retention management. “With the creation of the Suggs Scholarships, along with other student financial resources, SLU will continue to be a leader in providing all students an affordable Jesuit education.”
Applications are available in Scholarship Suite.