Article: Cunninghams support scholarships for African-American students in College of Business

Feb 27, 2021 | Business, Impact

Note: This article originally appeared in the 2020 Annual Report for Louisiana Tech. 

Dr. Bob and Mary Cunningham of Bossier City made a $150,000 gift to benefit Louisiana Tech University’s College of Business as a part of the University’s Forever Loyal Campaign. Their gift supported the Dr. Bob and Mary Cunningham Scholarship Fund, building and technology upgrades, and programming within the College. 

“Through their gift, Bob and Mary have shown their ongoing commitment to the success of the College of Business and, most importantly, our students,” said Dr. Chris Martin, Dean of the College of Business.

The Dr. Bob and Mary Cunningham Scholarship was established to support the educational opportunities of African American students studying accounting, business administration, or entrepreneurial management from Bienville, Caddo, or Bossier parishes. In 2016, Mary started The Henderson Sisters Scholarship along with her three sisters who also are Tech graduates. This scholarship helps students pay for books and incidental expenses.

The first recipient of the Cunningham scholarship is La’Dereka Christian, who helped establish the University’s chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants. She currently serves as its chairperson and is involved in the Black Student Union, a senator for the Student Government Association, and a Student Orientation Leader.

“Just being here on behalf of students who look like me and just letting them know you can do this, because it’s not that they don’t have the capabilities,” Christian said. “I’ve heard from peers and other people that it’s kind of hard going for those positions if you don’t see anybody that looks like you.”

Bob is a three-time graduate of the College of Business, where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1973, Master of Business Administration degree in 1985, and Doctor of Business Administration degree in 1996. Mary received a bachelor’s degree in music in 1975 and a master’s in 1982. The couple met during their studies at Louisiana Tech.

Today, Bob serves as CEO of the Heritage Group, a consulting firm specializing in the higher education sector, and the Cunningham Group, a fraud investigation company. He is also Executive in Residence for the College of Business and serves as faculty advisor of the University’s chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants. His entrepreneurial spirit and love of accounting have been woven throughout his career — from starting his own delivery business immediately after college and later an accounting practice, to serving as an instructor at both Louisiana Tech and Grambling State University.

In 1999, he and a partner purchased a cable contracting construction company through a partnership with a large telecommunications company where he worked full time after his retirement from teaching in 2006. The company was sold in June 2015. In addition to those interests, Bob has served as the evangelist for Queensborough Church of Christ in Shreveport since 1984. 

Mary retired after serving 22 years as a music specialist for Caddo Parish Schools. The couple has three children and five grandchildren. “We’ve been blessed with so much, and the Bible teaches that to whom much is given, much is required,” said Bob. “The fact that we can give something back to the University that has given us so much is an honor as well as a blessing. Throughout my career in teaching and in business, my degree from Louisiana Tech has always given me instant credibility.”