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President David Wilson with Earl G. Graves, Sr.

MSU President David Wilson Reflects on the Life and Legacy of a Morgan Icon

Dear Morgan Family,

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I share with you the unfortunate news of the passing of Earl G. Graves, Sr., a treasured member of our Morgan family. This son of Morgan was a legend in his own right and a great individual whose loss we mourn tremendously. On behalf of the entire Morgan family, including our Board of Regents, faculty, staff, students and alumni around the world, we extend our collective condolences to the entire Graves family, and all of his friends, during this period of grief. He will be sorely missed.

Many among us have become familiar with the legacy of Earl G. Graves, Sr. by way of Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management and the Graves Honors Program that bear his name here at Morgan, or through Black Enterprise magazine, which he launched so many years ago. But he was so much more to so many. He was a successful entrepreneur and businessman, a generous philanthropist, a national leader and an inspiration to generations of Morgan students who followed his lead and held aspirations of reaching higher success.

During my time at Morgan, I’ve had the opportunity to develop a very special relationship with the Graves family. And, over the years, my appreciation for what Mr. Graves means to Morgan, and my understanding of what his success has represented for so many of our graduates, have grown substantially.  Since matriculating at Morgan and graduating in 1957, Earl Graves embodied all of the values that we hold dear and true. He was one of ours: a quintessential Morganite held in the highest regard. Our hero!

And that love between alma mater and alumnus was not a one-sided one. Earl Graves loved Morgan as much as Morgan loved him.

As I think fondly of the many positive interactions I had with Earl Graves, there is one that is always foremost among my memories. It occurred when I began my presidency at Morgan, during my inauguration ceremony. It is centered on a story he told of when each of his sons became of driving age and wanted to borrow the family car. He would advise each son that there were some things he needed to show him before he would agree to turn the keys over. One of those things was the full tank of gas, and the other was the absence of dents, as they inspected the vehicle. The expectation was that each would return the car in the same condition that he received it. To paraphrase what he said to me after sharing this anecdote, “Think of Morgan as being that car. And I’m turning this ‘car’ over to you with a full tank of gas, and no dents. Please take care of my alma mater.”

I will never forget the conversations I had with Mr. Graves or the sage advice he imparted to assist in guiding my presidency. Nor will I forget the proud expression he bore when we cut the ceremonial ribbon in 2015 to officially open the then new Morgan Business Center, home of the Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management.

At Morgan, his legacy will forever live on.

Rest in peace, Mr. Graves. Your life’s work has been achieved.

President David K. Wilson


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