Michigan Ross Raises $118 Million To Help Define The Future of Business Education

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When education challenges and transforms students; when knowledge transcends the pages of a book and becomes real-life confidence and skill; when leadership goes beyond a defined role to harnessing a vision to achieve great things—when all these things happen within and outside the classroom, education becomes engaged learning at Michigan Ross.

Donors who give to Ross’s high-impact and experiential opportunities are supporting students who develop and execute business plans, who consult with real-world organizations on strategic improvements, who manage investment funds, who work with corporate partners to tackle ongoing business concerns, and much more.  

During the Victors for Michigan campaign, which publicly kicked of in 2013, generous donors have given $118 million to make engaged learning a priority at Michigan Ross. Their donations allow us to define the future of business education, including new innovations in action-based learning, transforming learning practices, connecting student experiences more directly to career paths, and more.

Here are just a few examples of the impact these generous gifts have on the Ross community:

The Seigle Entrepreneurial Innovation Fund

Mark Seigle (BBA ‘80) and his wife Robin Seigle have awarded generous funding to students with an idea for a mission-driven business that prioritizes social considerations.

The Seigle Entrepreneurial Innovation Fund, which is part of the Seigle Impact Track of the Michigan Business Challenge, has recently given more than $26,000 in prizes to students. A recent winner, PedalCell, developed bicycle power for cell phones. Other finalists included a digital platform that seamlessly managed parental leave for expectant mothers and fathers, and a web and mobile app that made it easy for families in need to locate and learn about their nearest free food assistance programs.

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Och Initiative for Women in Finance

Donor support is also part of a new initiative to increase the representation of women in the finance industry. Jane Och (BBA/MAcc ’86) and Daniel Och established the Och Initiative for Women in Finance through a gift from the Jane and Daniel Och Family Foundation. The initiative now offers an array of educational experiences that educate BBA students about opportunities in finance and that open doors to fulfilling, high-impact careers.

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Zell Founders Fund

To further the development of entrepreneurship programs for students and alumni, the Zell Family Foundation pledged $60 million to the Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. This includes $10 million dedicated to the Zell Founders Fund, which will invest in new student business ventures. The Fund is designed for all University of Michigan students, graduating or in their final year of their undergraduate or graduate program, who are seeking funding to support a startup they wish to continue after graduation.

“Entrepreneurs have always been a primary driver of growth for this country,” Sam Zell (AB ‘63, JD ‘66, LL.D Hon ‘05) said at the time. “I believe that fostering entrepreneurial education is an investment in the future.”

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Thomas C. Jones Initiative for Innovation in Undergraduate Education

Donor support has changed the definition of undergraduate learning on campus as well. Thomas C. Jones (BBA ‘68, MBA ‘71) created the Thomas C. Jones Initiative for Innovation in Undergraduate Education in order for the the best and brightest minds to work together to redesign the BBA program and curriculum. To best meet the changing needs and interests of undergraduate students, the new BBA curriculum combines core business fundamentals while still giving students the freedom to pursue individual interests. This allows for enhanced educational experiences that develop students in extraordinary ways.

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Sanger Leadership Center

And a hub for leadership development—the Sanger Leadership Center—was established in 2015 with a $20 million gift from Stephen Sanger (MBA ‘70) and his wife Karen Sanger. The center develops leaders with the character and capabilities to thrive in today’s dynamic world of work through impact challenges, story labs, a leaders academy, and much more.

These bold initiatives establish Ross as a leader in engaged learning, and generous donor support makes this transformative work possible.

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