VSU's hospitality management gets $1 million from owner of largest Black-owned food-service company

ETTRICK – Virginia State University is getting a sizable donation to its hospitality management department.

The university announced Oct. 11 that Thompson Hospitality, the nation’s largest Black-owned food-service company, is giving the Department of Hospitality Management a $1 million monetary gift. It’s the second million-dollar contribution from the company. The first one was pledged in 2011.

Company owner Warren Thompson gave the gift in honor of his parents, Fred and Ruby Thompson. In exchange, VSU is renaming the department the “Fred and Ruby Thompson Hospitality Department.”

"This is a game-changer for our department,” Dr. Berkita Bradford, chairperson of the hospitality management department, said in a statement. “A gift of this magnitude allows us to recruit the best and brightest. We’re committed to preparing hospitality graduates for long-term success as they enter the global hospitality industry."

Warren Thompson
Warren Thompson

Warren Thompson founded Thompson Hospitality in 1992 and has been VSU’s primary food-service provider for several years. His parents are VSU alumni – Fred Thompson received a master’s degree in education, and Ruby Thompson received a bachelor’s degree in home economics. Both became teachers.

“By virtue of my parents, Fred and Ruby Thompson, receiving their degrees from Virginia State University, I have always felt like I am a product of this great institution,” he said in the same statement. “Honoring their legacy and memory makes this commitment even more special.”

The gift was presented during halftime of VSU’s homecoming game Saturday.

Bill Atkinson (he/him/his) is an award-winning journalist who covers breaking news, government and politics. Reach him at batkinson@progress-index.com or on X (formerly known as Twitter) at @BAtkinson_PI.

This article originally appeared on The Progress-Index: Food-service company owner donates $1 million to VSU