Shuford family gift will add faculty, internship support to help meet demand for popular minor in the College of Arts & Sciences.
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.”
“I think entrepreneurship is a big part of the future of work,” said alumnus Jim Shuford ’88 (MBA ’92) of Charlotte, CEO of STM Industries. “The skills of entrepreneurial thinking and problem-solving are a natural fit for the liberal arts.”
Shuford’s brother, Stephen (MBA ’97), also of Charlotte, CEO of Shurtape Technologies, and sister, Dorothy Shuford Lanier (ABJM ’93) of Bedford, New York, join him in making the gift to Carolina. The Shufords are a fifth-generation Carolina family. Abel Alexander Shuford Jr., the siblings’ great-grandfather, was a member of the UNC Class of 1900.
Shuford himself was an English major as an undergraduate at UNC. He returned to Carolina to earn an MBA but said he recognizes that many students who want to launch a business or venture may not have the luxury of additional schooling. “An entrepreneurial education will give Carolina undergraduates a leg up — to find a job, start a company, grow a business, or be a productive member of any organization or enterprise.”
Shurtape is an entrepreneurial success story. The company was created in 1955 as a division of Shuford Mills, a textile firm established in 1880. With more than 800 employees in North Carolina and manufacturing and distribution facilities in eight countries, the company produces adhesive tapes under the Shurtape, Duck, FrogTape, T-Rex and Kip brands.
The Shuford gift will create an endowment to support the addition of three 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.
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 UNC’s undergraduate entrepreneurship programs 14th in the nation (rankings encompass both the Kenan-Flagler Business School’s and the College of Arts & Sciences’ entrepreneurship offerings). In 2015, UNC received the Entrepreneurial University Award for excellence in student engagement and curriculum innovation from the Deshpande Foundation.
Braden Rawls ’08, an early graduate of the program in entrepreneurship, is now CEO of Vital Plan, an herbal supplement company based in Cary, N.C., that she founded with her physician father. The company’s 12 employees includes six UNC 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,” she said. “My thinking has changed ever since, and the e-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,” he noted, “from adding more entrepreneurs-in-residence and instructors to meeting increasing demand for our courses to providing additional support for our internship and career placement efforts.”