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Former UM Benefactor Redirects Endowment to CREATE Foundation

By Talbert Toole
Lifestyles Editor

Ed and Becky Meek donated $5.3 million to the School of Journalism in 2009. The original endowment, plus the interest it accrued, is being redirected to the CREATE Foundation. Photo by Talbert Toole.

Ed Meek, a former benefactor of the School of Journalism and New Media, is redirecting his original $5.3 million endowment from the University of Mississippi to the CREATE Foundation based in Tupelo.

The original gift made in 2009 accrued $1.1 million in interest, making the returned total $6.4 million. The 2.08% compounded increase equates to an estimated $109,975 annually.

According to court documents obtained by Hottytoddy.com, the “Order and Judgement” was filed on July 30 and states the University of Mississippi Foundation has 75 days to transfer the balance(s) of the fund to the registry of the Chancery Court of Lafayette County. The balance(s) should then be immediately transferred by the Chancery Clerk to the CREATE Fund.

Rod Guajardo, UM associate director of strategic communications, confirmed to Hottytoddy.com via email that Meek requested “the liquidation and return of the endowment.”

His request came after School of Journalism and New Media administration removed his name from the building after backlash from a Facebook post made in September 2018. 

The total amount to be transferred represents market returns generated on the original $5.3 million donation, minus the prior distributions made from the Meek endowment, Guarjado stated.

According to Guajardo, on July 15 the University of Mississippi Foundation transferred the $6.4 million to the registry of the Chancery Court. Within the next 30 days, the Foundation will pay the residual amount of the Meek endowment into the court’s registry, as specified in the July 30 court document. 

Guajardo also said the court will manage any further distribution of the funds, as specified in the documents Hottytoddy.com obtained.

According to the court document, the entire amount of $6.4 million will be transferred to the “Ed and Becky Meek Donor Advised Fund” at the CREATE Foundation.

“The CREATE Foundation was pleased to work with the University of Mississippi Foundation and the Meeks to transfer these funds to our foundation,” said Michael Clayborne, president of the CREATE Foundation.

Clayborne said as stipulated in the court order, CREATE will receive recommendations from the Meeks on the charitable use of the funds.

All donor recommendations must meet charitable guidelines and are subject to approval by the CREATE Foundation Board of Directors, he said.

Clayborne said the Foundation does not comment on the specific use of any of the hundreds of donor recommended funds at CREATE.

The Foundation was originally established in 1972 when Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal Publisher George McLean and Anna Keirsey McLean donated an endowment. The donation helped start and support the administrative operations of the CREATE Foundation.

CREATE’s present-day operations work as “the region’s premier philanthropic resource regarding comprehensive charitable planning for individuals, nonprofits, communities, and businesses,” according to its website.

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