University of Utah creates fund to honor George Floyd and help black students

(Screengrab via the University of Utah) University of Utah President Ruth Watkins appears during the U.'s virtual commencement ceremony, which took place Thursday, April 30, 2020.

The University of Utah is creating a fund to honor the man killed by police in Minneapolis on May 25.

The George Floyd Memorial Fund in the Black Cultural Center will “directly support students and programs committed to advancing the interests of the next generation of aspiring black leaders,” according to a news release, including the Black Student Union, the Black Graduate Student Association and the U.’s chapter of the National Society for Black Engineers.

In this Sunday, June 7, 2020, photo, the sun shines above a mural honoring George Floyd in Houston’s Third Ward. Floyd, who grew up in the Third Ward, died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

“This is a moment that calls for action and great compassion to address the systemic racism and oppression brought to the forefront by Black Lives Matter and others,” U. President Ruth Watkins said in the release. “The University of Utah has an opportunity and a responsibility to be a place of hope and change.”

The George Floyd Fund will be part of a larger strategy, she added, to ensure that “diversity, equity and inclusion” are a primary focus at the U.

According to Watkins, she is “accepting a challenge” issued by Scott Hagan, president of North Central University in Minneapolis. During a memorial service for Floyd, Hagan asked every college and university in America to establish a memorial scholarship in memory of Floyd.

Watkins said that while the U. has “made some positive progress on our campus in recent years, we have not done enough — and that is especially important when it comes to supporting our black students, staff and faculty.”