Delta State University will receive $500,000 from FedEx over the next five years to support aviation scholarships intended to help offset climbing educational costs to train the next generation of aviation professionals.
Delta State is one of only six universities nationwide selected for the grants under the new FedEx Purple Runway Aviation Scholarship Program.
“I am very pleased and grateful that FedEx has chosen to provide Delta State’s Aviation Program with this generous funding for critical scholarship support that will assist our aviation students and help prepare the next generation of commercial pilots,” said Delta State President William N. LaForge. “As Delta State grows its flight operations capabilities to meet the increasing industry demand for pilots in the years ahead, it is doubly important that these scholarships will incentivize our aviation graduates to continue at Delta State as instructors. This partnership cycle is a win-win situation for FedEx and its future need for pilots, as well as for Delta State and our aviation students. I would label the FedEx-Delta State collaboration as ‘the perfect launch!’”
David Cunningham, president and CEO of FedEx Express, said the U.S. education system should sharpen its focus on preparing young people for the good-paying jobs in the aviation industry that are needed to support growing international and domestic trade.
“E-commerce is driving increasing demands on both air and ground transportation networks at a time when large numbers of workers in these fields are retiring, or nearing retirement,” Cunningham said. “We are working with schools to strengthen the pipeline of talented and diverse pilots, mechanics and other aviation professionals. The FedEx Purple Runway Aviation Scholarship helps lay that foundation for an individual to have a promising and successful career in the industry that FedEx Express created.”
FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp., the world’s largest express transportation company, created the FedEx Purple Runway Aviation Scholarship program to support aspiring pilots, aircraft maintenance technicians, and other aviation specialists. Also receiving the grants are University of Memphis, University of North Dakota, Indiana State University, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, and Arkansas State University Mid-South.
The scholarships build on FedEx’s Purple Runway project launched in April to promote aviation careers through collaborations with select colleges and universities—including Delta State—and assist feeder aircraft operators in recruiting and retaining pilots and eventually qualifying them for opportunities at FedEx. Frederick W. Smith, founder, chairman and CEO of FedEx, delivered the keynote speech at Delta State’s Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series in March, planting the seed for the ongoing partnership between the two entities.
Delta State College of Business and Aviation Dean Billy C. Moore, who attended the announcement at FedEx’s headquarters in Memphis today, said, “The mission of the College of Business and Aviation is to prepare our students for the marketplace. We understand that our success is not the product of individual efforts but partnerships between creative and dedicated people and organizations. This scholarship represents such a partnership and is a tribute to FedEx’s commitment to supporting individuals to fulfill their dreams of becoming a pilot and highlights the wonderful job our Commercial Aviation Department does in preparing well-educated and engaged pilots.”
Caption: Left to right: Cris Perkins, Tennessee College of Applied Technology; Dr. Stephen McCaskey, Indiana State University; Dr. Debra West, Arkansas State University Mid-South; Bill West, FedEx Express; Tim Leonard, FedEx Express; Scott Ogden, FedEx Express; Kent Lovelace, University of North Dakota; Dr. Billy Moore, dean of Delta State University’s College of Business and Aviation; and Dr. Joanne Gikas, University of Memphis gather at FedEx headquarters in Memphis on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2018, for the announcement of the FedEx Purple Runway Aviation Scholarship program. It’s a collaboration with six universities and technical schools from around the country to provide valuable education and training for aspiring pilots, aircraft maintenance technicians and other aviation professionals.