The David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah has announced a $13 million gift from local businessman James Lee Sorenson to create a center focused on impact investing.
The James Lee Sorenson Center for Global Impact Investing will replace the current James Lee Sorenson Leadership Pavilion and serve as a global platform for the University Impact Fund, which was created in 2010 by Sorenson, the School of Business, the Melvin J. Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance at Brigham Young University, and global impact investor Geoff Woolley to provide students with real-world experience in impact investing and social entrepreneurship. Among other things, the center will continue to focus on suppporting the growth of the impact investing sector through research that fosters greater understanding of how free enterprise can be employed to create large-scale societal change; curriculum development, including a proposed minor in impact investing, to prepare students for future success in the field; and applied market research that disseminates the knowledge developed at the center to a global audience.
The center will provide an array of fellowship opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students and sponsor two endowed faculty chair positions: a business chair, which will be held by an academic scholar with international prominence in social entrepreneurship research and scholarship; and an applied research chair, which will focus on translating the center's research into field work.
Sorenson, a globally recognized entrepreneur and business leader, plans to be involved in setting the direction for the center and mentoring its student participants. "On a personal level, this center is an opportunity to apply on a greater scale the lessons I learned about high-impact societal change at Sorenson Communications," said Sorenson, "where the major risk we made in time, energy, and money yielded extraordinary returns in opening up brand new personal and professional possibilities for deaf and hard of hearing individuals."
"The James Lee Sorenson Center for Global Impact Investing will provide unparalleled experiences for our students and faculty to participate directly in solving some of the world's thorniest and most persistent societal problems," said University of Utah president David Pershing. "The center will be a global leader in the creation of new knowledge of how to solve widespread structural problems, while training a generation of transformative leaders in social impact investment."