NDSU announces $4.5 million gift for entrepreneurship program

This morning at 1 Million Cups Fargo, North Dakota State University president Dean Bresciani announced a $4.5 million endowment has been given to the university from an anonymous donor. The money will be put towards a cross campus entrepreneurship program.

The endowment is one the largest single gifts to higher education in the history of higher education in the state of North Dakota, Bresciani said.

“It is going to seize on momentum of events like this [1 Million Cups Fargo] seize on the momentum of individuals like you, and propel our state even further into the future,” he said, speaking to around 230 people in the audience.

The money, which is immediately available to the university, is going to support an entrepreneurship program initiative that was already in action, Bresciani said. The donation came when Bresciani looked at funds and realized they were “going to run out of gas, real fast.” Donors were willing to bet big in order to see the program to completion.

“These individuals understand the power of higher education. They understand what NDSU is contributing to, not just Fargo, but the entire state and nation. And they saw that there’s a gap there. And they’re not patient people,” he said. “We’re using this to fund a program…that will keep on giving forever.”

Bresciani emphasized that the program will not cater to just one group of students, but will instead focus on a cross campus approach and pull students in from all majors. For instance, theater majors will be able to take a course in how to open a black box theater, or raise funding for running theater programs, he said.

“We are not going to silo this,” he said. “I don’t want to pull students out of engineering to focus on entrepreneurship. They need both those skills. I don’t want to pull students out of anywhere.”

The first step with the investment was to establish the President Jim Ozbun chair of entrepreneurship; a namesake that honors Dr. Jim Ozbun who served as its president from 1988 to 1995. NDSU’s College of  Business will being a national search to select the inaugural holder of the Ozbun Chair. The purpose of the Chair, according to NDSU, is to “nurture faculty excellence in entrepreneurship education and encourage students to pursue big ideas and innovative thinking and activity.”

By placing a greater focus on how students of all majors can become entrepreneurs, Bresciani sees a ripple effect that will impact generations to come.

“For a major national research university to be a catalyst and a partner with people we educate, we literally change the economic future of Fargo, Cass County, the state of North Dakota and our country,” he said.


Photo courtesy of Emerging Prairie.

Watch the announcement for yourself here:


Photo courtesy of Emerging Prairie.

Marisa Jackels

Marisa Jackels

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