Former Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter is giving Kentucky’s only private historically black college $1 million. The gift to Simmons College of Kentucky comes more than a year after Schnatter resigned from the pizza company he founded after it was reported he used the N-word on a conference call.
Simmons College President Kevin Cosby announced the gift Wednesday, saying that it represented the start of a long-term partnership with Schnatter.
“The pain of words, the sting, fades. Actions speak louder because lack of action through generations has caused pain through the generations,” Cosby said. “The black community has heard far too many false words, but today, this action, this generosity specifically for black education and uplift, speaks louder.”
Schnatter thanked Simmons officials for their work, and said supporting the school builds community.
“My life’s work is to help make other people’s lives better. One way for us to do and be better is to support black-led institutions that inspire overlooked and disadvantageous communities,” Schnatter said at Wednesday’s press conference. “Supporting Simmon[s] College is a better investment to build a better community.”
Since Schnatter resigned from both his company and the University of Louisville Board of Trustees after the racial slur incident, he has sold more than $157 million in company stock. He said in an interview with WDRB Tuesday that the campaign about racism was a “farce” which everybody saw though.
Schnatter and Cosby left the press conference after their statements without taking questions from reporters.
Simmons Board of Trustees Chair Mark Lynn said the school doesn’t expect a backlash in accepting the funds and that Simmons reached out to Schnatter to create the partnership.
“He has stepped up, he’s doing what he needs to to make things better, and actions are the king,” Lynn said. “We’ve talked with him. We’re in this for the right reason. It’s to make the school better.”
Lynn said the money could be used to hire more staff and repair some of the school’s infrastructure.