DeVos family a big donor to Lee University - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

DeVos family a big donor to Lee University

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Photo by NBC News. Photo by NBC News.
CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB) -

Betsy DeVos became the next education secretary on Tuesday in a historic vote. 

Mike Pence became the first Vice President ever to cast a tie-breaking vote for a cabinet nominee. The vote took place after senate democrats staged an overnight talk-a-thon to draw attention to DeVos' controversial nomination.

At Lee University, in Cleveland, TN, many of the buildings were built with money from the DeVos family.

The family has been one of Lee's biggest donors for the past 20 years. 

"The DeVos family first started giving money to Lee over 25 years ago, they have been our leading contributor and donor throughout the years of my presidency," said Lee President Paul Conn.

Lee University President Paul Conn said his personal friendship with billionaire Richard DeVos is one of the reasons his name can be seen on buildings across campus.

"When they began giving money to Lee, what they cared most about was not science or athletics or other areas, it was education," Conn said.

The Helen DeVos college of education building is named after Richard's wife.

"She was a school teacher before she got married, her father was a school teacher, it was a family of educators, K-12 educators," Conn said.

Conn said Betsy married into a family with a long history of educators.

Richard and Helen's son, Richard Jr., married who was then know as Betsy Prince, the now-secretary of education.

READ MORE | DeVos ekes out confirmation win as Pence casts historic vote

Conn has known Betsy for decades, and while her confirmation has caused controversy in Washington, he believes she's the right person for the job.

"It seems like a little bit of a stretch to some people because she's never been in public life before but I think there will be a steep learning curve for her but she is up to it. I'm eager to see what's going to happen in the next four years in the dept. of education," Conn said. 

DeVos became the sixth cabinet appointment of President Trump to be confirmed. She was sworn into office by Vice President Mike Pence just hours after her confirmation on Tuesday.

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