Carlson School Students Visit General Mills

In Good Company: The Carlson School's Long History of Corporate Support

Thursday, October 10, 2019



Since its founding in 1919, the Carlson School has maintained strong relationships with the business community in the Twin Cities, the state of Minnesota, and the world beyond.

From Fortune 500 companies to fledgling startups founded by our alumni, their generosity has been crucial to the Carlson School’s success.

As we celebrate 100 years since our founding, we want to take this opportunity to thank all of our corporate benefactors. Here are just two examples of organizations that have had a profound impact on our school.

Land O’Lakes, Inc.

For more than a half century, Land O’Lakes, Inc. has supported the University of Minnesota as it develops the food and ag workforce of tomorrow. In 2014, the company further strengthened its relationship with a landmark, decade-long, $25 million investment in the University of Minnesota.

“This [gift] underscores our commitment to educational excellence and further strengthens our investment in the pipeline of talent from the University of Minnesota,” Christopher Policinski, who served as president and CEO of Land O’Lakes until 2018, said when the gift was announced.

Included in that major commitment was $2.5 million for the Carlson School to create a Land O’Lakes Chair in Marketing, which is held by Professor Kathleen Vohs, a prolific and esteemed behavioral scientist. The company had previously supported the Land O’Lakes Professor of Excellence appointment (also held by Vohs since 2011) before it became a chair.

Land O’Lakes is supporting the Carlson School in other ways as well. For instance, the University is Land O’Lakes’ largest source of interns, and hundreds of graduates have been hired in the last half decade alone. The company also participates in programs like the Carlson Analytics Lab, where teams of graduate students harness data to solve 21st-century business challenges for client companies.

Land O’Lakes is also a premier partner of Grow North, a food and agribusiness accelerator initiative in the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship. Grow North’s mission is to create an interconnected, sophisticated, invested, and equitable ecosystem for Minnesota’s food and agricultural entrepreneurs and innovators by aggregating resources and acting as a mobilizing connector, creative spark, and ecosystem navigator.

General Mills

Without General Mills, the Twin Cities might never have become the corporate powerhouse it is today.

In 1856—two years before Minnesota became a state—the Minneapolis Milling company was founded and began milling flour. By the 1870s, it had become the Washburn-Crosby Company, and it built what was then the largest flour mill in the world (the Washburn A Mill) on the banks of the Mississippi River in what is present-day downtown Minneapolis. Along with competitor Pillsbury, they milled more than 20 percent of the nation’s flour in the Twin Cities at peak production, earning Minneapolis the nickname, “the Flour-Milling Capital of the World.”

It was the Washburn-Crosby Company who gave the first corporate donation to the University of Minnesota. Understanding the value that a higher educational institution could provide, they donated $2,000 (about $30,000 in 2019 dollars) to build an “experimental” greenhouse. Just a few years after that donation, Washburn-Crosby Company combined with several other mills around the country to become General Mills.

General Mills has continued to give generously to the University, including gifts to the Carlson School of Management, ever since. That includes financial support for students, an endowed faculty position in the Marketing department, and being a foundational partner of Grow North.

Fall 2019 alumni magazine cover

This article appeared in the Fall 2019 alumni magazine

The Carlson School is celebrating its centennial. In this issue, we examine our storied history (and the people that made it possible) and look forward to the next 100 years of excellence.

Fall 2019 table of contents