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University of Utah creates George Floyd Memorial Fund

Fund is intended to ‘support students and programs committed to advancing the interests of the next generation of aspiring black leaders’

The Park Building on President’s Circle at The University of Utah in Salt Lake City is pictured on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019.
The Park Building on President’s Circle at The University of Utah in Salt Lake City is pictured on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY The University of Utah has created the George Floyd Memorial Fund in the Black Cultural Center, which is intended to support students and programs committed to advancing the interests of the next generation of aspiring black leaders.

According an announcement Wednesday by U. President Ruth Watkins, the fund was established in response to a challenge by North Central University President Scott Hagan, who spoke during Floyd’s memorial service earlier this week. North Central University is in Minneapolis.

Hagan called on every college and university in the United States to establish a memorial scholarship in memory of Floyd, who was killed on May 25 while detained by Minneapolis police officers. Floyd’s death sparked international outcry for justice and reform, which has included ongoing protests in Salt Lake City.

“This is a moment that calls for action and great compassion to address the systemic racism and oppression brought to the forefront by Black Lives Matter and others,” Watkins said in a statement.

“The University of Utah has an opportunity and a responsibility to be a place of hope and change. While we have made some positive progress on our campus in recent years, we have not done enough — and that is especially important when it comes to supporting our black students, staff and faculty,” she said.

The scholarship announcement comes as the university is investigating a social media post that referenced a 2013 text message from U. defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley that included racist language.

Scalley has been suspended while the investigation is underway.

Watkins said the fund is “among new and specific actions and strategies we are developing to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion is a primary focus at the U.,” Watkins said.

“Our work to create a compassionate, equitable and just society for all continues,” she said.

To contribute online, go to auxiliary.apps.utah.edu/ugive/designation/3664 or visit the U’s. giving page and search for the George Floyd scholarship fund. To reach the U.’s Advancement Office by phone call 801-581-3720.