Centennial Scholars Program Launches
Friday, October 8, 2021
15 Donors Come Together to Lay Groundwork for $50 Million Centennial Scholars Program.
There is power in a shared vision. When common goals bring people together, the ability to transform the future becomes reality. Thirty-four Carlson School students represent the first proof of that power. These students are members of the inaugural Centennial Scholars cohort, part of a transformative, new, $50 million endowed scholarship program that provides multi-year, renewable scholarship funding to undergraduate and graduate students.
The Centennial Scholars Program provides significant funding to attract a diverse class of promising students from Minnesota and beyond to enroll at the Carlson School. Entering Centennial Scholars not only receive generous scholarship packages: The required global experience and additional programming designed to enhance their academic journeys are also included.
What makes this program unique is how it’s funded. A small group of 15 donors—a mix of alumni, corporations, and foundations—who will forever be known as Centennial Founders, came together to provide financial support to students while fueling the pipeline of future business leaders. Becoming a Centennial Founder allowed some of the most loyal and generous Carlson School donors to create a lasting legacy.
“Giving back to the University that has meant so much to us has become a priority in our lives,” says Jim Campbell, ’64 BSB, a former Carlson School dean and honorary member of the Driven Campaign Steering Committee. “We were excited to learn about the Centennial Scholars Program that could build upon our existing support of students and provide programs that help turn them into leaders. This powerful combination of scholarships and leadership was the perfect fit for our philanthropy.”
“We are so pleased to have had the opportunity to support this effort as a Centennial Founder, and are excited to see what these outstanding students—the Centennial Scholars—will go on to accomplish in the future,” adds Carmen Campbell, ’64 BS, CEHD, Jim’s wife and partner in philanthropy.
The Wedum Foundation is also a longstanding donor to the Carlson School that has honored the legacy of John A. Wedum, ’52 BSB, a successful Minnesota–based businessman and a staunch believer in the power of education, by endowing scholarships in his name.
When the current Wedum Foundation Board learned about the opportunity to become a Centennial Founder, Board President Jay Portz didn’t have to do much convincing.
“The Board thought that if we can attract and keep top talent in Minnesota by offering these scholarships, then that is something they wanted to be a part of,” says Portz. “Education is extremely important to the future of our country. We want to help as many people as we can.”
Timing also lined up. Wedum had just sold its University Village Apartments building, which provided affordable student housing near the Twin Cities campus, to the University of Minnesota. They decided to contribute proceeds from the sale to continue benefiting students.
On being a Centennial Founder, Portz adds, “It’s great to be a part of this group that will have such a big impact, and support such an impressive group of scholars.”
Like other donors, Best Buy was also motivated in part by their commitment to ensuring the pool of skilled graduates with degrees and experience in business and management remains strong. Best Buy has made other investments at the Carlson School in ensuring that rising students from all backgrounds are able to consider careers at the intersection of tech and business. The Centennial Scholars Program was a natural extension of those efforts.
“We know that jobs in management within the tech industry are increasing, so the need to diversify and expand talent is extremely important. This scholarship is just one more way Best Buy is preparing teens for the jobs of the future,” says Andrea Wood, head of social impact at Best Buy, when the program was announced.
The first cohort of Centennial Scholars represents the changing demographics of the student body at the Carlson School, the most diverse and impressive group of students in the school’s more than 100-year history. They are 73 percent female, 39 percent self-identifying as students of color, and 49 percent from the state of Minnesota. The program expects to enroll at least 75 new students each year, once fully operational, with a continued commitment to diversity, academic achievement, and leadership.