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A transformative day for entrepreneurship at Carolina

The Shufords' gift will create three additional entrepreneurs-in-residence, up to four faculty fellows, up to 70 student internships and a lecture series on innovation and entrepreneurship.

An $18 million gift from three alumni siblings will more than double the size of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s nationally ranked undergraduate entrepreneurship program based in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The gift from the Shuford family of Hickory, North Carolina is the largest single one-time gift by a living individual or family to the College. The minor in entrepreneurship will be named the Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship in the family’s honor.

Members of the Shuford family joined Chancellor Carol L. Folt and College Dean Kevin Guskiewicz on Tuesday outside Gardner Hall to celebrate the donation.

The gift will help meet the demand of students who want to enroll in the minor or entrepreneurship courses 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.

Folt called the announcement a metamorphosis event for Carolina.

“This is a place where we champion change, and where we work hard to teach persistence in the face of failure and innovation in the face of barriers,” Folt said. “When you take something and it goes through a period of metamorphosis, and it emerges as something completely different, that’s what true transformation is. This will emerge into something even grander than we ever imagined.”

The gift from the Shufords 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 entrepreneurship program is a good fit with the arts and sciences, and it provides skills so necessary in these days and times,” said alumnus Jim Shuford, CEO of STM Industries. “It’s a daunting task to prepare these students for the future, so this seemed like such a logical thing to do. We wanted to touch every student with these skills, even if they’re not in the minor.”

Jim Shuford’s brother, Stephen, who is the CEO of Shurtape Technologies, and his sister, Dorothy Shuford Lanier, joined 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.

The Shufords created Shurtape 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 now produces adhesive tapes under the Shurtape, Duck, FrogTape, T-Rex and Kip brands.

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. Open to students in any major, the program helps them transform innovative ideas into viable businesses and nonprofit ventures.

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.

In March, The Princeton Review ranked UNC’s undergraduate entrepreneurship programs 14th in the nation (rankings encompass both Kenan-Flagler Business School’s and the College’s entrepreneurship offerings). In 2015, UNC-Chapel Hill received the Entrepreneurial University Award for excellence in student engagement and curriculum innovation from the Deshpande Foundation.

“When I am on the road talking to alumni or meeting with potential students and their parents, I like to emphasize the things that differentiate Carolina from its peers. The Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship is a shining example of what differentiates us,” Guskiewicz said. “I am thankful to my visionary predecessors at UNC for recognizing how revolutionary it would be to teach the entrepreneurial mindset to students majoring in any discipline — artists, musicians, anthropologists, chemists, social and political scientists, and more.”

Read more about the gift.

By Kim Spurr, College of Arts & Sciences