Georgia Tech College of Management will be able to strengthen its focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, thanks to a $1.5 million commitment from alumnus Ernest "Ernie" Scheller Jr., IM 1952, who is chairman of Silberline Manufacturing Company.
Pending approval from the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents, the Ernest Scheller Jr. Chair in Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Commercialization will enable an eminent teacher-scholar to serve as a leader in these important academic disciplines, influencing interdisciplinary programs and other colleges through collaboration with faculty and students across campus.
In addition to making the College a renowned leader in education and research related to innovation, entrepreneurship, and commercialization, Scheller says he intended his gift to honor the work of Terry C. Blum who will transition from her current role as business school dean on July 1 to head Tech's new Interdisciplinary Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Steven Salbu will replace her as dean.
"I am so deeply touched by this wonderful gesture of support and friendship from Ernieï¿½.," Blum says. "This commitment was not only a pleasant surprise for me personally, but more importantly a truly visionary investment in the long-term vitality of the College."
Scheller is semi-retired but continues to serve as chairman of Silberline, a global supplier of high-quality special effect and performance pigments that dramatically enhance the visual appeal of coatings, paints, inks, plastics, and textiles. He joined the company, which his father founded, in 1953 and became president in 1964. Today Scheller's daughter, Lisa Jane, is CEO, and the Pennsylvania-based company operates globally, employing more than 600 people.
The key to the company's success has always been innovation, Scheller says. "Small companies have to find a niche in the marketplace; they have to be innovative in order to survive," he adds, crediting his Georgia Tech education for teaching him "the importance of perseverance and persistence."
A member of the College of Management's Advisory Board who enjoys attending Tech athletic events, Scheller thanks Dean Blum for helping revive his interest in Georgia Institute of Technology. "The experience the second time around has been such a joy," says Scheller, who lives with his wife, Roberta, in Villanova, Pennsylvania, and Vail, Colorado. "I get a lot of satisfaction and pleasure out of making this gift."
In recognition of Schellers past philanthropy, the College of Management named the Roberta and Ernest Scheller Jr. Lobby and Auditorium after them.