Florida State receives $100M gift to create new school

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida State University has received a $100 million gift from Jan Moran and the Jim Moran Foundation to create the nation's largest interdisciplinary and degree-granting school of entrepreneurship.

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Friday to name the school the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship. University president John Thrasher called the gift "a transformational moment" for the university.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, it is the largest gift to a public university in Florida and is tied for the highest in the state. The University of Miami received a $100 million gift from the late Leonard M. Miller in 2004. Last year the University of Florida received a $75 million pledge from Al Warrington IV and Judy Warrington.

Tom Jennings, the vice president of university advancement, said the previous largest gift to FSU was a $30 million pledge in 2006.

"We see this as an expanding opportunity for the whole campus and beyond," Thrasher said. "It sends a signal to a lot of people across the country that the university is on the move. These are significant programs."

Normally donors have to have paid 50 percent of their donation figure before naming rights were considered along with a pledge period of seven years or less. Due to the magnitude of this gift, the Board of Campus Names approved the request and then forwarded it to the Board of Trustees. Jim Moran passed away in 2007. He never attended college but started donating to the university in 1995.

The school's administrative offices and the Moran Institute will be based in downtown Tallahassee. It is scheduled to launch on Aug. 8, 2018, on what would have been Moran's 100th birthday.

Said Jan Moran in a statement: "With this gift, we forever secure the legacy of Jim Moran and his passion for supporting entrepreneurism so that current and future generations will have the knowledge and skills they need to be successful."

Florida State offers an undergraduate major and minor in entrepreneurship through its College of Business. The Moran School of Entrepreneurship will offer Bachelor of Arts and Science degrees as well as a redesigned minor. The curriculum will be organized across five major focal areas: Arts and Humanities, STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics), Business, Allied Health and Applied (law, education, criminology and social work).

"This school is the first of its kind at a university of this size," said Michael Hartline, who is the interim dean for the College of Business. "No one does it on the magnitude that we are going to do it or offer the curriculum side with the outreach in the community side and pull it together. You have students working on projects but they have this great legion of other entrepreneurs."

As part of the deal signed on Tuesday, Jan Moran and the Jim Moran Foundation will not have any role in deciding course offerings or hiring faculty. Florida State came under fire in 2011 after an agreement with the Charles Koch Foundation became public where the foundation was allowed to determine faculty positions in economics.

"The Morans have not insisted on any kind of involvement with the course, discussions or content," Jennings said. "This will be faculty driven. Nothing in this agreement has even suggested that the Morans want to dictate that. Developed by faculty with provost insight."

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