Malcolm Portera named to Riley Foundation board
By By Chris Allen Baker/staff writer
Jan. 22, 2002
Malcolm Portera left a Mississippi university last year to lead higher education in Alabama but will renew local ties as a member of the Riley Foundation Board of Directors.
Portera, a native of West Point and former president of Mississippi State University, started Jan. 3 as Chancellor of the University of Alabama system based in Tuscaloosa.
Portera became the ninth member of the Riley Foundation's board, which officially accepted him during its annual meeting.
Portera topped reasons for accepting an invitation to join the board with respect for the Riley family and the foundation's focus on the community.
He said he also wanted to maintain ties to his home state.
In becoming UA Chancellor, Portera took the reins of a $2 billion system of 22,000 employees and 41,000 students, but he said he has kept Lauderdale County in mind.
Portera has been a major influence behind development of a Riley Center for Education and the Performing Arts, and restoration of the 1890 Grand Opera House and Marks-Rothenberg Building. As MSU president from 1998-2001, Portera guided state support for the $31 million project, to which the Riley Foundation is contributing $10 million.
Portera said he believes Meridian and Lauderdale County are improving because people are taking action.
Chartered in 1998, the Riley Foundation holds more than $60 million in assets and awarded more than $19 million in grants used to provide financial support and other assistance for community-wide projects and programs in healthcare and education and the improvement of cultural, environmental and economic conditions for Meridian and Lauderdale County.