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Business School Lands $11 Million Gift for Sustainability

The UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School has received a multi-million-dollar donation to support the construction of its first new building in 20 years.

The $11 million donation comes from the estate of the late Charles Ackerman, an Atlanta real estate investor who earned a bachelor’s degree from the university in 1955, Triangle Business Journal reports. The estate gift will support a new building for the school’s Center for Sustainable Enterprise, which focuses on social environmental sustainability in business. Additionally, the gift will also help support MBA fellowships, expanded offerings in the undergraduate business program, and increased research capacity by supporting Ph.D. students as Sustainability Fellows. It will also fund the center’s operations and additional staff members.

“For over 20 years, our center has empowered students, faculty and business leaders to identify, create and deliver innovative, profitable business solutions while improving social equity and environmental integrity,” Doug Shackelford, dean of UNC Kenan-Flagler, says in a press release. “This is a rare and transformational gift that will have tremendous impact on our students’ lives and the organizations where they work.”


UNC Kenan-Flagler is well-established as a pioneer B-school in sustainability education. According to Tracy Triggs-Matthews, associate director of the center, the business school was among one of the first to offer a comprehensive curriculum in sustainability in 1999.

“When Mr. Ackerman visited the School in 2011 we shared the full scope of our work – from teaching to extracurricular programs to research to stakeholder outreach – and how our graduates leave UNC Kenan-Flagler prepared to implement what they have learned to change the world and how our research can have an impact on the practice of business,” Triggs-Matthews says.

Sustainability, according to Olga Hawn, associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship and the center’s faculty director, remains a strategic pillar of UNC Kenan-Flagler, and the B-school intends on remaining committed to addressing critical sustainability challenges.

Understanding the drivers of sustainability strategy and the different ways it is implemented are imperatives for organizations around the world,” Hawn says. “Through our research and education, we connect theory and practice and build understanding and awareness for all stakeholders.”

Sources: Triangle Business Journal, UNC

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