USM will soon receive a grant for $1 million, thanks to the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation.
That grant will establish the Beckman Presidential Scholars program for students interested in the sciences and impacted by Hurricane Katrina. After making a few connections, one important phone call started it all.
"I found out that ambassador Argyros was the chairman of the Beckman Foundation and that he and Governor Barbour were friends. And, of course, when I found that out, I immediately called Governor Barbour and said, 'I need your help and I need it bad and I need it right now.' And he said, 'Okay,'" said USM president Dr. Shelby Thames.
Governor Barbour called Ambassador Argyros, who serves on the board of directors for the Beckman Foundation. It turns out he was delighted to help.
"Everyone on our board of trustees, when we talked about the opportunity to help, they were very enthusiastic," said Argyros.
That enthusiasm amounted to a lot of money for qualified USM students. Thames says this is the most generous scholarship program the university offers.
"If a student qualifies as a freshman, they can receive up to $50,000 in four years toward their education in the sciences," said Thames.
Thames believes scholarships, such as this one, promote the sciences. And he says that promotion is desperately needed.
"Science and engineering is an area where our country has a crucial shortage. There are tremendous opportunities for our young men and women in the sciences," said Thames.
Argyros wanted to send a message to all of the students of USM.
"All of you that are going to school here, through thick and thin, you have been through a lot. Our admiration and respect for what you are trying to do. We want you to accomplish your goals and your dreams. We want you to be successful," said Argyros.