It's a dollar-for-dollar challenge grant designed to inspire charitable gifts and commitments from other donors to the College's endowment. Therefore, a donor can create a $2 million faculty chair with a $1 million gift.
And that's exactly what Owens, IM 1982, decided to do. The new Gregory J. Owens Chair will enable the College to attract a top scholar to an academic area that will be determined based on the College’s needs.
"This is an opportune time to help Dean Steve Salbu propel his vision for the College of Management," says Owens, who is current chairman of the College of Management's Advisory Board. "The fact that there's a challenge grant provides a great opportunity to put more money to work."
Under Salbu's leadership, the College aims to become the world's preeminent business school for management and technology. "We are in direct competition with the nation's best business schools," Salbu says. "In order to compete effectively, we must have the resources to attract and retain the finest faculty at all career stages because world-class faculty members are what drive the College's national and international reputation.
"The same holds true with our students," Salbu adds. "It is imperative that we endow substantial numbers of undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships. Our goal is to lead the top business schools in attracting and supporting the very best student talent."
In addition to faculty chairs and professorships, the $20 million challenge grant also provides opportunities to endow fellowships for MBA and PhD students, scholarships for undergraduate students (including ones for students in the interdisciplinary Technology and Management Program), and study abroad scholarships and fellowships.
"My Georgia Tech education has been absolutely instrumental in my career, so I wanted to give back to the school," says Owens, who is chairman and CEO of the online auction company IronPlanet. He previously served as chairman and CEO of Manugistics, a provider of supply chain and revenue management solutions that Owens led through a period of remarkable growth until its acquisition by JDA Software in 2005.
"By endowing a chair, I'm helping provide students with the opportunity to get a high-caliber education that will make a tremendous difference in their lives," Owens says. "My hope is that 25 to 30 years from now, they'll feel the same way I do about my Tech education and be in a similar position to support the school."
Huang, IM 1973, and his wife, Nancy, are also helping enhance the quality of both the faculty and student body through their generosity. In addition to a $100,000 donation to Athletics, their $1 million gift to the Institute includes $745,000 for the endowment of the Nancy J. and Lawrence P. Huang Professorship, an undergraduate Dean's Scholarship, and an MBA Dean’s Fellowships, all three which will receive dollar-for-dollar challenge grant matching, as well as funding for a term professorship (all at the College of Management).
Playing Crucial Role
Huang believes that the College is playing a crucial role in preparing today's students to compete in an increasingly complex global economy in which the United States is not necessarily the dominant world economy.
"If you look at the country as a business, the question is how do we maintain competitiveness in this globalized environment," Huang says. "I believe that our country's ability to commercialize new technologies is a fundamental competitive advantage. Georgia Tech is one of the best schools in the nation at fostering the skills necessary to successfully commercialize technology, so we could think of no better place for our gift."
Huang, who has served three terms as a trustee on the Georgia Tech Foundation, knows quite a lot about commercializing technology. Virtually his entire career has been dedicated to it. In 2001, he retired from Ciena Corporation, a manufacturer of optical communication systems, which he co-founded. He spearheaded the venture's growth from the startup phase to more than $600 million in annual revenue. Prior to Ciena, Huang co-founded the company, Tridom, which commercialized networking technology involving satellite communications.
Leading by Example
Huang is a past chairman of the College of Management's Advisory Board, while Owens currently holds that post. Both long-time supporters of the College, they hope the early example they've set in responding to the challenge spurs more alumni to step up and help the College build a financial foundation that more than doubles its current endowment.
To participate in the challenge, donors must make a qualifying gift or multi-year commitment to be fulfilled within five years. Those gifts and pledge payments will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the anonymous donor. Fundraising for the challenge is expected to conclude no later than June 30, 2012, though pledge payments may extend up to five years from the date of a participating donor's commitment.
In addition to the $20 million challenge grant, an anonymous donor gave an additional $5 million to be used at the discretion of the College of Management's dean.
"With this gift, we have an opportunity to move Georgia Tech's College of Management to the very top tier of the world's preeminent business schools of management and technology," says Georgia Tech President G. P. "Bud" Peterson.
For more information on the challenge grant, visit http://mgt.gatech.edu/about_us/giving/gift.html.