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Business 2020 Committee sets $600K goal for business school, receives $250K challenge gift

Shepherd University and the Shepherd University Foundation have launched the Business 2020 Committee, a new public-private partnership to raise $600,000 to help fund a School of Business at the university. Led by Ray Alvarez, Shepherd University Foundation vice president and a Shepherd alumnus, the committee has been organized to assist Shepherd in revitalizing the business program with the goal of creating a School of Business.

During the committee’s first meeting July 27, hosted by alumnus Ken Lowe at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Shepherdstown, Mike Smith, president of the Shepherd University Foundation, offered a $250,000 challenge grant. Smith’s challenge gift is the first at this level for Shepherd.

“The challenge grant by Mike Smith has inspired the committee and enhanced our confidence in attaining the goal. A number of the committee members have responded generously with their gifts and pledges and are excited to take this effort forward over the next several months to other alumni and community friends,” said Alvarez.

“This is an extraordinary example of the commitment of our business community partnering with Shepherd to revitalize an important program and provide significant new opportunities for students,” said Shepherd University President Mary J.C. Hendrix.

The meeting gave committee members, who are also local business leaders, the opportunity to meet with Dr. William Benjamin “Ben” Martz, Jr., the new chair of the Department of Business Administration. Martz (pictured above), who will begin his job at Shepherd August 15, said he is excited to see so much enthusiasm for a business school from the community.

“I think the community is 100 percent behind it,” Martz said. “It was great to see the community come out and hear the fantastic Shepherd stories. We have great alumni who are backing their ideas. The beauty of it for me, a newcomer looking in, is that not only is the university  behind this, but also the community. That is fantastic.”

During his first year Martz will set up an advisory board and create a strategic plan for the business school. He will become dean of the School of Business in 2017. Martz said he also hopes to empower the faculty and encourage students to consider business as a major.

“Business school enrollments throughout the country have gone down a little bit because we haven’t done a good job of explaining to students what they can do with a business degree,” Martz said. “They can basically do anything with a business degree. We just need to point that out and make sure that Shepherd students understand and take advantage of that. A business degree is a great complement to whatever else they want to do in life.”

Community members interested in contributing to the Business 2020 fund to create Shepherd’s new School of Business should contact the Shepherd University Foundation at 304-876-5286 or via email to [email protected].