UNC graduate Steve Bell and an anonymous donor have pledged to donate $25 million each to the Kenan-Flagler Business School — funds which will bring the business school closer to its goal of doubling undergraduate enrollment.
The $25 million from Bell, in collaboration with his wife Jackie Bell, will go toward a new building for Kenan-Flagler, to be named after him. These latest donations also bring Kenan-Flagler closer to its goal of raising $75 million in private funding.
On July 1, Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law a bill to provide $75 million to expand the business school campus, provided the school matches these funds in private donations by June 30, 2022.
The total $150 million will go toward the new building, a refit of the McColl Building and Kenan Center and additional parking.
With over a year to go, Kenan-Flagler has now raised $58 million.
Contributing to this $150 million goal by its deadline represents a long-term investment at UNC and for the state, Bell said.
"I am the type that wants to do everything yesterday," Bell said. "I do have a sense of urgency."
Bell had already pledged to donate $11 million to the Kenan-Flagler Business School in May. But Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz announced at his formal installation Sunday as the 12th chancellor of UNC that Bell has now increased his donation to $25 million — and has been matched by an anonymous donor.
"Part of a challenge from our state's legislature to match $75 million, this investment allows us to ultimately double the size of our undergraduate business program, teaching more students and driving economic growth in our state," Guskiewicz said at the installation.
Bell said his donation stems from his dedication to the state of North Carolina.
"I want to help our state with more business people and entrepreneurs," Bell said. "They are the ones that often create jobs."
Bell graduated from UNC in 1967 and is the founder and chairperson of Bell Partners, an apartment investment and management company.
With the addition of a new building, the business school will be able to increase undergraduate enrollment by at least 50 percent.
Each undergraduate class at Kenan-Flagler typically has 350 undergraduate student majors and 50 undergraduate minors. The business school is usually able to accept half of all applicants.
In total, Kenan-Flagler has about 1,000 undergraduate business, 400 Master of Accounting, 1,600 MBA and 70 doctoral students.
Doug Shackelford, dean of Kenan-Flagler, said the new building will:
- Add 140,000 of gross square footage.
- Double the available teaching space and have 16 classrooms.
- Increase student life and community interaction space by 48 percent.
- Meet LEED Gold standards as its baseline for sustainability.
- Provide outdoor greenspace.
“This is truly a transformational moment for UNC Kenan-Flagler, for Carolina and for our state. It’s also a transformational moment for young people we don’t even know yet – some of whom haven’t even been born – because when they get to Chapel Hill, there will be places for them at UNC Kenan-Flagler thanks to this gift from Steve and Jackie Bell,” Shackelford said in a story by University Communications.
But Bell said ultimately he wants to see enrollment at the business school double. Demand for a business degree exceeds the available space, leading to stagnant growth at Kenan-Flagler over the past few decades, Bell said.
"Most people today either don't apply or really can't get in," Bell said.
Increasing the amount of people who can receive business degrees benefits graduates, employers and smaller communities across North Carolina, Bell said.
"A lot of people that go to the business school, they don't all go back to Raleigh and Charlotte," Bell said. "They go back to Lumberton and Mount Airy and Winston-Salem and Greensboro — I just believe this expansion can be a great, great benefit for our state."
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