Wells College Receives $5 Million Gift for New Center for Business and Entrepreneurship

August 22, 2011

Wells College President Lisa Marsh Ryerson announced on Friday, June 3 that the College has received a major gift from Pike and Susan Wray Sullivan to help establish its new business center. By endowing the Susan Wray Sullivan ’51 and Pike H. Sullivan Center for Business and Entrepreneurship at Wells College, the loyal supporters are helping the College realize its vision of creating an undergraduate business program rooted in the liberal arts with an emphasis on innovation, experiential learning and entrepreneurship.

“As Wells College offered a transformational experience for Sue [Wray Sullivan], she and Pike have in turn made a course-altering commitment to Wells,” said Ryerson during her speech at Wells’ 2011 Reunion ceremony, where Mrs. Sullivan was celebrating her 60th reunion. “With the Sullivans’ gift, the College will have the funding, in perpetuity, to assure that the Center for Business and Entrepreneurship develops and thrives.”

The Susan Wray Sullivan ’51 and Pike H. Sullivan Center for Business and Entrepreneurship marks an important strategic investment for the liberal arts college, which continually renews its curriculum to attract and serve students with an intensely personal education that boasts small classes, a tight-knit academic community, and a focus on experiential or “hands-on” learning. By integrating business fundamentals and distinctive course offerings with a core liberal arts curriculum, the business program at Wells aims to “prepare students not only with business acumen to help launch their careers, but also with the critical reasoning skills, communication skills, and well-rounded perspective essential for leadership,” said Ryerson.

The new business program offers unique areas of interest for students to explore, including entrepreneurship, as well as an “innovation laboratory” and a “design thinking” course. Students will have the ability to tailor their course of study with these distinctive offerings and with coursework in business fundamentals including marketing, personal and organizational finance, economics, business strategy, accounting, human resources, business ethics and international business.

“The new Center for Business and Entrepreneurship will offer extraordinary opportunities for students at Wells, and I’m delighted that we can help make that possible,” said Susan Wray Sullivan, Wells College Class of 1951. “Pike and I are thrilled to support Wells College, which long ago offered me the gift of a very special educational experience that made an enormous difference in my life. I remain deeply connected to my classmates and enthusiastic about Wells’ future.”

In addition to directing the undergraduate business program at Wells, the Center will host workshops and guest speakers on campus, as well as events such as the Wells “Entrepreneurship Week,” which features a speaker series and business plan competition for students. The Center will also organize business-related clubs on campus and forge ties with businesses and not-for-profit organizations to provide internships and special educational opportunities for students.

Of the $5,000,000 given by the Sullivans, $4,500,000 will provide endowment for ongoing annual funding to support the staffing, operations, and programs of the Center. An additional $500,000 will provide start-up expenses for the Center for the first two years. The work of the Center began during the 2010-2011 academic year with the inaugural director, Robert J. Ellis, a graduate of the Harvard Business School who has extensive industry experience in financial services management, marketing, retail sales, and accounting.

“We’re inspired by the Sullivans’ generosity and by the promise that the Center holds for Wells College students,” said Ryerson. “Sue and Pike Sullivan are wonderful representatives of our vibrant community of alumni and friends, who-in a multitude of ways-are making a difference in the world through visionary and humane leadership.”

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