Meredith College Celebrates $1 Million Gift from Philanthropist Porter Byrum

Isa Ward Byrum was a student at Meredith College in the school’s earliest days. Thanks to a $1 million gift from her son, Porter Byrum, she will have an impact on Meredith students well into the future. The Meredith College community celebrated this gift when Porter Byrum visited campus on September 20, 2012.

Click here to watch a video from the celebration.

The gift will support need-based financial assistance for Meredith students.

Byrum said his mother “believed in education and her dream was for all her sons to get an education. I hope this money will help other mothers’ dreams also come true.”

A retired attorney and real estate developer from Charlotte, N.C., Porter Byrum is known for his educational philanthropy. He is one of five sons of the late John Thomas Byrum and Isa Ward Byrum. Isa Ward Byrum, who was born in 1883, attended Meredith College between 1906-1910.

During the celebration, Porter Byrum was presented with a portrait of his mother. The portrait was drawn by artist Allison Vincent, who graduated from Meredith in May 2012.

Meredith College President Jo Allen, ’80, is pleased that Byrum chose to honor his mother with this gift.

“Mr. Byrum speaks so affectionately of his mother, sharing the sentiment that most of us feel for our mothers—a wish to do more on their behalf and in their honor,” Allen said. “Now, he has given a supreme gift that not only memorializes his mother for perpetuity, but also tells her story as a young woman coming to Meredith, excelling in her studies, and ensuring her family’s well-being through education.”

Allen noted the scholarships funded by this gift from Porter Byrum will change the life of the students following in his mother’s footsteps at Meredith.

“One of the most consistent things I see and know about Meredith is that it does, truly, change women’s lives. I know. It changed my life,” said Allen, the first alumna to serve as Meredith president.

Allen has seen students transform into confident, self-assured achievers during their time at Meredith.

“Because Meredith excels in making these transformations possible, gifts such as Mr. Byrum’s are especially valued and valuable,” Allen said. “It is a message we frequently hear, and we see increasing evidence of its accuracy: because of their impact on families and communities, not to mention on businesses and services, if you want to change the world, educate a woman. Mr. Byrum’s gift will help us to do that—in exponential ways with exponential benefits.”

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