Lee receives largest gift ever, $5 million from MacKenzie Scott

Lee College is honored to announce it has received a $5 million gift from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott
MacKenzie Scott

The gift recognizes Lee College’s innovative work to support its most underserved students, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The unsolicited gift is the largest gift ever received in the college’s 87-year history.

Lee College President Dr. Lynda Villanueva commented, “We are overwhelmed by Ms. Scott’s generosity, and we are thrilled to be recognized for our transformative student success work.”

In 2020, Lee College awarded more than $2 million to students for unmet basic needs like food, housing, childcare and medical expenses through its Lee Cares program. Dr. Villanueva said, “This incredible gift will let us significantly expand our work supporting our students and community as we emerge from this global health crisis.” The college also offered free tuition during Summer 2020 and partnered with local school districts to provide free tuition for 2020 graduates for the fall semester. The result was a 41 percent increase in enrollment in the summer and an overall 1 percent increase in headcount for the fall. Dual enrollment at local high schools also increased by 18 percent over the previous year. 

“This donation recognizes the College’s visionary leadership — along with the really hard work of our faculty and staff to ensure our students realize their educational goals. This gift is confirmation of the life-changing work that is being done by Lee College, work being recognized nationwide,” said Lee College Regents Board Chair Gilbert Santana.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.