April 19, 2010
CONTACT: Tom Tozer, 615-898-2919
‘Princely’ Pledge Kicks Off New Centennial Scholars Program at MTSU
MURFREESBORO—Little did Gale and Jonelle Prince know when they expressed an interest in giving back to MTSU that their name would be attached to the university’s first Centennial Scholarship.
With a pledge of $100,000, the Gale and Jonelle Prince Centennial Scholarship Endowment not only foreshadows the university’s 100th anniversary, it will also usher in a long succession of Centennial Scholars who will be able to fulfill their college education, graduate and become productive citizens.
“Joe Bales asked me if I had hacked into his computer when I first talked to him about doing something,” said Gale Prince (B.S. ’57). “He pulled out a piece of paper that he had just printed out setting up this Centennial Scholarship program. So I talked to my wife, and we decided to go that route.”
“We’re absolutely delighted at the Prince’s generosity,” Bales, MTSU vice president for development and university relations, said. “Gale is a distinguished alumnus winner, and both Gale and Jonelle have been very active on campus and in the community. It’s a great opportunity for our alumni and friends who want to do something, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for our students. What we envision over the next few years is to establish 100 of these endowed scholarships.”
Each $100,000 endowment will provide a competitive award, renewable for a maximum of five years, while the student pursues his or her degree and remains academically eligible. One unique feature of the award is that recipients may use funds to pursue an international experience related to their degree program.
“Being a five-year award, if you stagger them properly, 20 new students can start every year as a Centennial Scholar,” Bales added. “You’ll have 20 students in a cohort—they will be recognized together and almost be a class within a class. The Princes love the university, and for them to do this is extremely exciting and is a testament to their belief in our students and their future.”
Gale Prince, a native of Shelbyville, Tenn., earned a degree from MTSU in industrial arts. He received his commission to second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and served for 21 years as his military duty took him to France, Korea and Vietnam. He retired in 1978 with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Jonelle Prince, originally from Russellville, Ky., worked for Rutherford County for 32 years and retired in 2000 as the county’s chief deputy assessor of property. They are active members of First Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, the Lions Club and the Discovery Center, among others.
“We’re so very proud to be associated with MTSU,” Jonelle said. “We think the school is very progressive. I have a granddaughter going here now and had a grandson who went here. … With nine grandchildren, we feel like this is one way to help the youth—and, hopefully, our own will be interested in furthering their education.”
“I worked every day when I went to school,” Gale joined in, “which was one reason my grades were not that good. We want to see students have the opportunity to be able to study more because they have the scholarship and won’t have to go out and work every night.”
Students who are selected as Centennial Scholars will represent the upper 10 to 15 percent of their high-school graduating class and will have achieved a minimum ACT score of 29 or 1,300 on the SAT. Criteria will include academic performance, leadership, athletic or extracurricular activities. and recommendations from teachers, faculty and community leaders. An MTSU Centennial Scholar must maintain a 3.5 GPA to continue receiving the award each year.
“As soon as we have a fully funded endowment, we’ll begin making awards,” Bales said, “so we’re looking at the fall of 2012. We’re seeing a lot of people who really understand the importance of education and want to help the next generation of students. This award will truly make a difference.
“Our current economy really brings into focus the importance of a college degree. We are truly indebted to Gale and Jonelle for kicking off what I believe will be an incredible program that will open the doors of higher education to many young people and inspire them to achieve their potential.”