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Press Releases

Friday, April 1, 2005

The SU Community Mourns Frank Perdue's Passing

SALISBURY, MD---When legend Frank Perdue passed away March 31, the business world lost a giant and Salisbury University mourned an alumnus, benefactor and friend. In 1986, he created a multimillion-dollar endowment for SU's School of Business. In gratitude, the University named the school in his honor. The first such gift for the campus, his generosity became a model that led to other major bequests by Eastern Shore business leaders. In a little over a decade all of the University’s four schools were endowed, a rarity among public institutions nationwide. President Janet Dudley-Eshbach told The Associated Press, “Salisbury University has become the institution it is today… because of the largesse of Mr. Perdue.” The following are remembrances of Perdue from some of those who knew him at SU and tributes to his legacy. Salisbury University President Janet Dudley-Eshbach, personal reminiscences of a friend: Frank and I hit it off the moment we first met, which was the time of my coming to campus to interview for the Salisbury University presidency. He and Sam Seidel were the only two major donors who had come to "check out" the finalists who were being considered for the position. The three of us had lively, easy-flowing conversation. I was, from this first meeting, very impressed with Mr. Perdue's business acumen and straight-forward assessment of issues. He did not mince words. Unfortunately, it was right after that meeting in 2000 that Frank had his serious car accident. As I was driving back to West Virginia from Salisbury, I got a phone call that Mr. Perdue was in a "halo." I thought, "Well, he's a good man, but I didn't notice any halo around his head!" Happily, Frank recovered from the incident and the halo mechanism which assured there would be no head trauma following the accident was removed. For me, though, Mr. Frank Perdue will always have a sort of halo presence--he did so much good for the Eastern Shore and Salisbury University. * * * I was pleased that at dinners at the Perdues' residence and other events the seating arrangement usually called for me to be seated next to Frank. We enjoyed each other's company, discussing business and politics and many other topics. Over the past five years, I sure have learned a lot about the poultry industry! Upon my return from a humanitarian mission to Cuba in 2003, Frank was eager to have me tell him about that country. His comment: "One day our country will be doing business with all Latin American countries, and it will be a good thing. Those Latin Americans have figured out that the tastiest part of a chicken is the dark meat!" I'll miss his intelligence and humor. Salisbury University President Janet-Dudley Eshbach, on the Perdue legacy to Salisbury University: On behalf of the Salisbury University community, I first want to express my heartfelt sympathies to the Perdue family. Frank was a delightful man to know and his love of our community and the University was boundless. Personally, I was always grateful for his support and friendship. For those who may not know of Frank’s association with the campus:
In 1986, he endowed the Salisbury University School of Business for $2.4 million. In gratitude, the University named the school in his honor. This was the first multimillion-dollar gift for the campus and his generosity became a model that led to other major bequests by Eastern Shore business leaders. In a little over a decade all of the University’s four schools were endowed, a rarity among public institutions nationwide. In 1994 Perdue gave the Business School another million dollars after it earned accreditation from AACSB International for both its undergraduate and graduate programs. Only 15 percent of business schools worldwide have such accreditation and the Perdue School is the only such accredited business program on the Delmarva Peninsula. The momentum the various endowments provided in funding scholarships for students and research and professional development for faculty created the seedbed for the University’s growth in academic stature. Among its peers, SU is today ranked one of the best public universities in the North in national guidebooks such as U.S. News & World Report. Longtime observers of the institution credit Perdue’s initial financial commitment as critical to current successes. Frank was, in many ways, one of the founders of Salisbury University. Besides serving on the Salisbury University Foundation board of directors for six years, retiring in 2003, Mr. Perdue and his wife, Mitzi, have been frequent visitors to campus and have hosted Perdue Scholars (students awarded academic scholarships funded by his endowment) in their home. At the time of his second gift, Perdue said, “When we began this process eight years ago, we could only dream that we would have come so far so fast. … I am proud to have my name associated with this fine school.” Salisbury University has always been proud to have its name associated with his.

Again, our deepest sympathies to Mitzi, his son, Jim, and the entire Perdue family. Ed Thomas, Chair, Board of Directors, Salisbury University Foundation: The Salisbury University Foundation, like the entire Eastern Shore, is saddened by the passing of a great leader, philanthropist and business visionary. A former student at what was then the State Teachers College at Salisbury, Mr. Perdue built one of the world’s prominent poultry operations and later endowed the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business at his Alma Mater. In addition to his financial generosity to the University, Frank served with distinction on the SU Foundation Board for six years, retiring in 2003 as a director emeritus. All on the board will miss him. Fortunately, his son, Jim, has succeeded him as an active director and thus the Perdue commitment continues. On behalf of the SU Foundation Board, I extend our heartfelt condolences to Frank’s wife, Mitzi, Jim and all of the Perdue family. Dr. William M. Moore, Dean of the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business: On behalf of the students, faculty, and staff of the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business, I extend our deep sympathies to Mitzi, Jim, and the entire Perdue family. We are all saddened by the passing of Frank Perdue. The business education program at Salisbury University is a regionally recognized, and is gaining national and international recognition. This success is directly attributed to Mr. Perdue and Perdue Farms. Mr. Perdue’s commitment to establishing and maintaining a strong quality program where students can learn from knowledgeable and skilled faculty was matched by his generosity and support in so many ways. Mr. Perdue and Perdue Farms provided the financial resources to establish the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business, support the successful accreditation of the School by AACSB International, maintain accreditation, and create and sustain student and faculty development initiatives. Mr. Perdue’s overall contributions are almost beyond measure. Through the years the Perdue School has benefited not only from his vision and financial support, but his advice and council, and countless sharing of his time with our students and faculty. The Perdue School of Business is dedicated to maintaining the vision and ever enhancing the foundation established by Mr. Perdue and Perdue Farms. Former students of the Perdue School were especially fortunate to interact directly with the legend and be part of the legacy in the making. We will certainly miss the legend. The Franklin P. Perdue School of Business affirms-through its current and future students, faculty and staff-that it will continue with its commitment to the legacy. Background on the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business: The Franklin P. Perdue School of Business was established through a Frank Perdue and Perdue Farms, Inc. endowment to ensure excellence in business education at Salisbury University. The School offers a variety of degrees, majors and programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Upon receiving its accreditation by AACSB International, it joined a small but elite group of business schools world-wide with this coveted distinction. The School has approximately 1,400 students in its bachelor's and master's degree programs. The Perdue School is the largest college-level center for business education and development in the region, with programs also for community, business and economic development. The School is committed to providing students with the knowledge and skills for personal and professional success, including international experiences and experiential learning.

For more information on the life and legacy of Frank Perdue, visit

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