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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

$18 Million Gift Will Transform Entrepreneurship at UNC-Chapel Hill

Shuford family gift will add faculty, internship support to help meet demand for popular minor in the College of Arts & Sciences

Press Release – (Chapel Hill, N.C.— May 23, 2017) – The family of a fifth-generation North Carolina company has made an $18 million gift to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s College of Arts & Sciences to more than double the size of Carolina’s nationally recognized undergraduate entrepreneurship program.

The gift commitment from the Shuford family of Hickory is the largest single one-time gift by a living individual or family to the college. It will help meet the demand of students who want to enroll in entrepreneurship courses or the minor in entrepreneurship through the addition of faculty. It will also support twice the number of student internships at entrepreneurial firms worldwide and will encourage problem-based learning throughout the college and University.

The 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,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “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 Shuford gift will create three additional entrepreneurs-in-residence and up to four faculty fellows, and will create up to 70 student internships and a lecture series on innovation and entrepreneurship. Funds will also endow the program’s executive director and internship director positions. In partnership with the Shuford Program, the college will provide support for at least three additional full-time faculty members, an entrepreneur-in-residence and an administrative staff position.

The Shufords are a fifth-generation Carolina family – Abel Alexander Shuford Jr. was a member of the class of 1900. His great-grandchildren, sibilings Jim Shuford and Stephen Shuford, of Charlotte, and Dorothy Shuford Lanier, of Bedford, New York, also Carolina alumni, made the gift to Carolina. Jim, CEO of STM Industries, received his undergraduate degree from Carolina in 1988 followed by his MBA in 1992; Stephen, CEO of Shurtape Technologies, earned his MBA from Kenan-Flagler Business School in 1997; and Dorothy earned her undergraduate degree from Carolina in 1993.

“I think entrepreneurship is a big part of the future of work,” said Jim Shuford. “The skills of entrepreneurial thinking and problem-solving are a natural fit for the liberal arts.”

Created in 2004, Carolina’s 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. The minor has grown exponentially and currently has more than 250 students enrolled. More than 800 students have graduated from Carolina with a minor in entrepreneurship.

“The Shuford family’s gift for entrepreneurship is a game-changer,” said Kevin Guskiewicz, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “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 Carolina’s undergraduate entrepreneurship programs 14th in the nation (rankings encompass entrepreneurial offerings at both UNC Kenan-Flagler and the college). In 2015, UNC-Chapel Hill received the Entrepreneurial University Award for excellence in student engagement and curriculum innovation from the Deshpande Foundation.

Braden Rawls, an early graduate of the program in entrepreneurship, is now CEO of Vital Plan, an herbal supplement company based in Cary, that she founded with her physician father. The company’s 12 employees include six Carolina alumni.

“Growing up in a family of doctors and scientists, I had not been exposed to business as a career path. Through the minor in entrepreneurship, I was able to test it out and discovered I had a true knack for creatively solving problems through business, and it complemented the skills I was developing in the journalism school,” said Rawls. “My thinking has changed ever since, and the minor provided me with training and resources that have led me to become a leader in the Triangle’s B Corp network, a business community focused on maximizing a triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.”

Charles Merritt, executive director of the minor in entrepreneurship, described the Shuford family gift as “transformative.”

“It will accelerate several key initiatives for the program,” said Merritt, “from adding more entrepreneurs-in-residence and instructors to meeting increasing demand for our courses and providing additional support for our internship and career placement efforts.”

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