Unable to pay his tuition, Calvin E. Tyler Jr. dropped out of Morgan State College in 1963 and took a job as a truck driver, as one of the first 10 UPS drivers in Baltimore in 1964.
On Monday, Tyler and his wife, Tina, pledged to give $15 million to Morgan State University to help other students struggling to pay for their education, bringing their lifetime pledge to $20 million, the university announced.
“We never forget where we come from,” Tyler said Monday. “I know Baltimore and I know there are promising, brilliant, intelligent young men and women. My wife and I have the resources to help.”
Tyler’s gift is the largest private donation from an alumnus in the university’s 154-year history, and is believed to be the largest alumni contribution to any Historically Black College or University.
Morgan State President David K. Wilson referred to the Tylers as a “power couple” in the Black community with a history of investing heavily in the institutions that have propelled them.
“Calvin and Tina Tyler are two of the most remarkable people I have met,” Wilson said. “They’ve never forgotten the places and people who have enabled them to achieve their success. They have never forgotten Baltimore. They have never forgotten Morgan.”
The donation is at least the fifth time the Tylers have increased their pledge to the university to ensure students can afford a college education. In 2016, the couple gave $3 million to provide need-based scholarships for students living in Baltimore. The Tylers pledged $1 million in 2007 for needs-based scholarships, and $500,000 in both 2005 and 2006.
The prior gifts have funded 222 Morgan students with 46 full-tuition scholarships and 176 partial scholarships. Wilson said he expects the latest donation to at least double that reach and defray student costs for decades to come. The latest gift will not be restricted to city students.
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“My wife and I have become keenly aware of the effect that the pandemic has had on a number of young people trying to get an education [and] we have the resources to help a lot of young people,” Tyler said in a statement from the university. “This is why we are increasing our commitment at Morgan; we want to have more full tuition scholarships offered to young people so that they can graduate from college and enter the next stage of their life debt free.”
Tyler and his wife were born and raised in Baltimore, and still refer to the city as their home town. They now split their time between Las Vegas and Northern California.
Tyler, the first in his family to attend college, graduated from City College and enrolled at Morgan State in 1961 to study business administration. These days, the philanthropist jokes that he can’t remember how many credits he earned. He left in 1963 but has since been awarded an honorary degree.
At UPS, Tyler rose through the ranks, taking advantage of every corporate seminar and moving with Tina eight times around the country. By the end of his career in 1998, he was serving as the senior vice president of operations and the first Black member of the UPS board of directors.
Tyler hopes their gift to Morgan inspires other philanthropists, particularly those who have graduated from HBCUs, to give back as well.
About 90% of Morgan students receive financial aid, Wilson said.
The gift is the second recent major contribution to Morgan State. Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who co-founded Amazon with her ex-husband Jeff Bezos, gave the university $40 million late last year — the largest donation in school history.