Belk, Inc. and The University of North Carolina at Charlotte today announced that Belk, Inc. will donate $5 million to the university’s Belk College of Business over five years. This gift is the largest in the history of the Belk College, which was named in honor of the Belk family and organization in 1990.
The announcement was made at UNC Charlotte’s Center City campus at a luncheon attended by university officials and more than 100 business and community leaders.
“UNC Charlotte and the Belk College of Business have long benefited from the generosity and dedicated personal involvement of the Belk family and executives at Belk, Inc.,” said UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois. “This gift not only reinforces that very special relationship, but marks a new era in corporate-university partnerships for the college and the university.”
Components of the gift include:
- Endowed Professorship in Business Innovation
Building on a growing focus on innovation in business as well as Belk’s specific emphasis on this area, this faculty position will add expertise in the research and teaching of innovation – ideas and processes that add value to business, customers and society. In addition to creating curriculum and teaching courses on innovation, the professor will teach alongside Belk, Inc. associates and will serve as a liaison to the company for programs that support innovation. Matching funds from the State of North Carolina will provide an additional $500,000 to this endowment.
- Endowed Chair in Marketing Analytics
This faculty position will play a key role in development of the Data Science and Business Analytics (DSBA) initiative being championed by UNC Charlotte, providing research and teaching expertise in the growing fields of customer analytics and customer relationship management. This professor will also help develop a learn-work-hire program for Belk College students to prepare participants for direct entry into the retail industry. Matching funds from the State of North Carolina will provide an additional $667,000 to this endowed faculty fund.
- Belk Scholars Program
This program will identify undergraduate business students with high potential and groom them for careers in analytics and business innovation. Scholars will participate in a fast-track program that leads directly to a graduate program, with students encouraged to pursue the proposed Professional Science Masters (PSM) in Data Science and Business Analytics currently under development at UNC Charlotte.
- Faculty Research and Teaching Grants
These funds will support research and curriculum development by Belk College faculty in the areas of marketing analytics, customer analytics, customer relationship management and strategic innovation. Some research projects and educational offerings will be developed in partnership with Belk, Inc.
“This is a transformational gift for the Belk College,” said Steven H. Ott, dean of the college. “With the support of Belk, Inc. we can build on our strong reputation of collaboration with the business community by moving into new areas of growth and opportunity. We want to be seen by Charlotte’s business community as the region’s school of choice for business education, and to be recognized as a preeminent public urban research business school.”
The UNC Charlotte gift comes as Belk, Inc. prepares to celebrate its 125th anniversary this spring. “As we celebrate our 125th year in 2013, we are honoring our heritage while celebrating the future. This gift symbolizes both values,” explained Chairman and CEO Tim Belk. “This contribution honors our decades-long support of education, while it provides the foundation of future growth for the university’s Belk College of Business.”
Ties between the company and UNC Charlotte’s college of business run deep. The college was named in honor of the Belk family and organization in 1990, in recognition of their long-standing personal and philanthropic contributions. The late Thomas M. Belk, a UNC Charlotte trustee, was the first chair of the college’s Business Advisory Council in the 1980s, a position later held by his son, current Belk Inc. President and Chief Operating Officer John R. Belk, in the early 2000s. The late John M. Belk, then chairman of the company, contributed $1.5 million to the college in 2003 to support expansion of international programs. Most recently, The Belk Foundation provided a $250,000 grant for the Belk College to launch the Student Center for Professional Development this year, a comprehensive career resource center for undergraduate business students.
“We’re grateful to Belk, Inc., for believing in the Belk College’s aspiration to be at the forefront of business education in the 21st century,” said Dubois. “We hope this gift – and the resulting partnerships between the college and the company – will serve as a catalyst for other companies to strengthen their involvement with the university and mobilize our vast intellectual resources.”
About Belk, Inc.:
Charlotte, N.C.-based Belk, Inc. (www.belk.com) is the nation's largest family owned and operated department store company with 301 Belk stores located in 16 Southern states. The company was founded in 1888 by William Henry Belk in Monroe, N.C., and is in the third generation of Belk family leadership. Its belk.com website offers a wide assortment of fashion apparel, shoes and accessories for the entire family along with top name cosmetics, a wedding registry and a large selection of quality merchandise for the home. To connect with Belk via Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, blog, mobile phone text messages or by email, go to: Belk Get Connected.