Belk Inc. and UNC Charlotte announced Tuesday that the retail giant is giving the university $5 million over five years to boost the schools teaching of marketing analytics and business innovation.
The gift to the Belk College of Business will help establish an endowed professorship in business innovation and an endowed chair in marketing analytics, and also will groom business students for careers in those fields. The gift will support research in marketing, customer analytics, customer relationship management and strategic innovation.
Chancellor Philip Dubois called it the biggest single gift the business school has ever received, and noted that members of the Belk family have long played significant roles in the development of the university and the business school, which bears the familys name.
This gift not only reinforces that very special relationship, he said, but marks a new era in corporate-university partnerships for the college and the university.
Belk officials said they welcomed the opportunity to help the school groom students who can help businesses like theirs understand the rapidly changing digital marketplace.
This is an incredibly exciting day for Belk, the companys president and chief operating officer, John Belk, said at a reception at the schools uptown campus. Our world is changing. Our customers are changing. Business is changing deeply.
Steven Ott, dean of the college, said the gift will help the business school recruit more high-quality students. It will allow the school to identify top undergraduate business students and funnel them into a fast-track graduate program now under development focusing on data science and business analytics.
The endowed chair in marketing analytics will help develop a learn-work-hire program that will prepare students to go directly into the retail industry. The business innovation professor will create curriculum and teach courses on innovation, and will also serve as a liaison to the company for innovation programs.
Tim Belk, chairman and CEO of the company, noted that the gift comes as the retail giant prepares to celebrate its 125th anniversary.
We are honoring our heritage while celebrating the future, he said. This contribution honors our decades-long support of education, while it provides the foundation of future growth for the universitys Belk College of Business.