UNC entrepreneurship program gets $18M boost

Posted May 23

— A family of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alumni has made an $18 million gift to the school's College of Arts & Sciences to more than double the size of its nationally recognized undergraduate entrepreneurship program, officials said Tuesday.

The pledge from the Shuford family of Hickory is the largest single one-time gift by a living individual or family to the college, officials said. It will be used to fund three more entrepreneurs-in-residence and up to four faculty fellows, and will create up to 70 student internships at entrepreneurial firms worldwide and a lecture series on innovation and entrepreneurship.

UNC-Chapel Hill's minor in entrepreneurship will be named the Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship in the family’s honor.

"This is an extraordinary gift for our University. We are so grateful to the Shuford family for making possible a major expansion of what is a core pillar of Carolina’s strategic vision for the next decade," Chancellor Carol Folt said in a statement. "The new Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship expands our efforts in innovation and entrepreneurship across the College and provides many new interdisciplinary, immersive and experiential learning opportunities for Carolina’s bright students."

The Shufords are a fifth-generation UNC-Chapel Hill family. Abel Alexander Shuford Jr. was a member of the class of 1900. His great-grandchildren, siblings Jim Shuford and Stephen Shuford, of Charlotte, and Dorothy Shuford Lanier, of Bedford, N.Y., are also alumni and made the gift.

"Both my sister and I who graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences left undergrad maybe without all the skills we really felt like we needed to really go out and hit the ground running," said Jim Shuford, who received his undergraduate degree from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1988 and an MBA in 1992. "Not everybody wants to show up and go to business school Day 1. Not everyone can go back to MBA school like my brother and I were able to. And it just seemed like a good fit with the arts and sciences.

"We got plenty of sunshine here with smart kids and really dedicated faculty. We’re just putting a little bit of entrepreneurial rain into the mix to hopefully create the right kind of learning environment so that these kids really can develop into the kind of people that society needs them to be," he said.

Created in 2004, the minor in entrepreneurship was the signature program of the Carolina Entrepreneurial Initiative, established with a $3.5 million grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. More than 800 students have graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a minor in entrepreneurship, and more than 250 students are enrolled in the program.

"The Shuford family’s gift for entrepreneurship is a game-changer," Kevin Guskiewicz, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, said in a statement. "The Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship at Carolina is unique to any entrepreneurship program in the country because, rather than teaching only business students how to become more entrepreneurial, it also teaches students of music and art, physics, anthropology, exercise and sport science, sociology and many other disciplines how to work collaboratively with an entrepreneurial mindset."

Students pursuing the minor follow one of nine tracks – artistic, commercial, computer science, design, media, scientific, social, sport or public health – and must complete an internship.

In March, The Princeton Review ranked UNC-Chapel Hill's undergraduate entrepreneurship programs 14th in the nation. The ranking also includes entrepreneurial offerings at the Kenan-Flagler Business School.


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