The largest gift from an individual in the institution’s 123 years of operation will assist William Carey University in building a school of pharmacy on the Tradition campus in Biloxi and in efforts to launch the doctor of physical therapy program at the Hattiesburg campus.
The gift of $1.1 million was given by Joe F. Sanderson Jr., chief executive officer and chairman of the board for Sanderson Farms in Laurel, and his wife Kathy. Of the $1.1 million, $1 million will be used for the pharmacy school and $100,000 for the physical therapy program.
In accepting the gift, Carey President Tommy King said, “No one loves Mississippi more than Joe and Kathy Sanderson. The Sanderson family has a long history of supporting worthy causes in our state. William Carey is deeply grateful for this very significant gift.”
The proposed pharmacy school would be the second school of pharmacy in Mississippi and will meet a major need in a state where pharmacists are in critical demand. The physical therapy program, officially established in 2014 and expected to admit its first pre-physical therapy students in August, is also the second physical therapy doctorate program in the state and will meet another strong need.
The university has a long track record of meeting needs. When it became clear that Mississippi, and indeed the entire Gulf South region of the United States, needed more medical doctors, the institution’s Board of Trustees and President Dr. Tommy King worked to open the College of Osteopathic Medicine. The medical college, the second medical school in the state, accepted its first class in 2010. The inaugural class of 94 doctors of osteopathic medicine graduated in May 2014 and now work in residency programs throughout the nation. The fifth class of medical students started their studies in August 2014.
And, in a state where a nursing shortage continues to be an issue, the institution’s School of Nursing has substantially expanded its offerings in recent years. A doctor of philosophy in nursing education and administration was added in 2012 and a master of science in nursing/master of business administration dual degree in 2014. A health information management program, another need in the state, was also added in 2012.
Carey’s vision of meeting needs matches up nicely with the vision of the Sanderson family, which has previously donated $105,000 to the university for building, development and scholarship endowment and has often provided assistance for causes in Mississippi.
An example of the family’s charitable mindset can be found in Joe Sanderson Jr.’s rescue of the annual Professional Golf Association tour event in Mississippi. The event, which provides necessary resources for the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson and has been held
since 1968, was in serious trouble in recent years. In 2013, Sanderson persuaded the board of Sanderson Farms to become the event’s title sponsor.
In January 2015, the Sanderson Farms Championship announced a record donation of $1,102,700 to the children’s hospital. The gift will be used to expand the hospital’s Children’s Heart Center, where congenital heart defects affecting nearly one out of every 100 babies born are diagnosed and treated.
At the time of the hospital donation, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant remarked of Sanderson, “Until Joe stepped forward, we were on the verge of losing something that this state has had since 1968 … Joe is a humble man and he gives credit to others but without Joe, we would not be here today.”
Sanderson Farms Inc., founded in 1947, is engaged in the production, processing, marketing and distribution of fresh and frozen chicken and other prepared food items. Employing more than 11,000 employees in operations spanning five states and 13 different cities, Sanderson Farms is the third-largest poultry producer in the United States. With company headquarters in Laurel, Sanderson Farms is the only Fortune 1000 company headquartered within the state of Mississippi.
As a company, Sanderson Farms is committed to adopting a fresh approach in everything that they do. Not only where products are concerned, but companywide as well. Though the company has grown in size, it still adheres to the same hometown values of honesty, integrity and innovation that were established when the Sanderson family founded the company back in 1947 as a small feed, seed and farm supply business. Even today, after more than 65 years in the business, the company continues to be guided by chairman and CEO Joe F. Sanderson Jr., a third-generation Sanderson who is keenly tuned with his family’s legacy of unparalleled growth, quality products and responsiveness to customer needs.