The dedication and care of McIntire’s faculty have long been central to the School’s unmatched success and outstanding reputation in business education. As a cornerstone of its Inspire the Next Century campaign, the Centennial Fund for Faculty Excellence safeguards the Commerce School’s future by investing in its most important resource: the people who instruct, prepare, and guide tomorrow’s business leaders.
Created to support faculty in perpetuity, the Centennial Fund strategically pools gifts of $100,000 or more to an endowed fund, providing critical and flexible annual resources that compound and grow over time, with an end goal of supplying permanent funding for Commerce faculty recruitment, retention, and research.
McIntire Advisory Board Member Celeste Zuch (McIntire ’91) was moved to support the Centennial Fund to ensure the type of invaluable experiences that defined her time in the Commerce School for students in the coming decades and beyond.
“My professors weren’t just teachers; they were mentors and friends, too,” she says. “For example, I was a research assistant for Marketing Professor Sandy Schmidt, and when I graduated and moved to Atlanta, she personally made a call that led to my job at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture).”
Zuch adds that her experiences in the classroom and the friendships she made during her time at McIntire were pivotal factors in her success. “I want to ensure that McIntire is financially positioned to continue to attract and retain the best business faculty,” she says, noting that she and her husband, Kurt, donate to the Annual Fund as well. “We believe in giving back so that other students have the same opportunity.”
Fellow Advisory Board member Walker Simmons (McIntire ’93) was likewise motivated by a desire to contribute to the fund and the School that gave him a passion for investing, which launched him into a professional life defined by an interest in private equity. “I am really excited to give back and support McIntire’s ambitions to expand its Alternative Investing Initiative,” he says, referring to the rigorous academic and experiential program designed to expose students to investments in nontraditional assets such as real estate, hedge funds, commodities, and the aforementioned area of private equity.
“I look forward to watching McIntire add talented faculty to support this initiative and engaging with the School’s vast alumni network in the alternative investing field,” Simmons says.
In addition to the pooled portion of the Centennial Fund, McIntire has received 10 generous commitments totaling $26 million to establish professorship funds. These commitments will collectively receive $17 million in matches from the University’s Bicentennial Professorship Fund. A significant example of what leadership-level commitments to the Centennial Fund generate has come in the hiring of nine new faculty members who represent a broad spectrum of subject areas and arrive on the strength of an extensive set of impressive past positions and academic achievements.
This year, the Commerce School welcomed Accounting Professor Jasmine Wang; Finance Professors Sheisha Kulkarni and Drew Sanderford, a protégé of McIntire’s beloved Professor George Overstreet; IT Professors Sarah Lebovitz and Reza Mousavi; Management Professors Christina Black, Charlotte Hoopes, and Abbie Oliver; and Professor Chiraag Mittal, who joined McIntire’s Marketing faculty.
The diverse research work of the Commerce School’s newest faculty members, with scholarly expertise ranging from real estate, household finance, and workplace technology adoption to consumer decision-making, social impact of IT, intercultural communication, and more, enhances McIntire’s potential for further programmatic innovation and cross-discipline collaboration.
Because of the generosity of Centennial Fund donors, the newest faculty members have already made a positive impact on students in the hallmark Integrated Core Experience program, as well as other essential undergraduate coursework and classes across the School’s award-winning graduate degrees. Their insight and real-world knowledge are already providing more of the incomparable learning opportunities that ready McIntire graduates to employ commerce to tackle the global challenges facing industry and society.