The University Record, July 19 , 1999

$10 million gift from Sam Zell, Ann Lurie to create major entrepreneurial institute at Business School

From the School of Business Administration

The Business School has received a $10 million gift from two great entrepreneurs—Samuel Zell and Ann Lurie—to create an Institute for research and teaching in entrepreneurship. Approved by the Regents at their July meeting, the Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies will begin to operate this fall.

“The Institute will have a strong foundation to build on,” said Dean B. Joseph White. “In the past decade, Michigan has emerged as a leader in innovative approaches to teaching one of the most popular fields among business school students nationwide.

“It’s a high honor to have such distinguished names at the center of our activities in entrepreneurship,” White said. “Having these names associated with the Institute indicates that Michigan’s people and programs are setting a high standard in the field, and reminds us that we have an even higher standard to meet.”

Entrepreneurial studies, White said, teaches “the innovation, initiative, risk-taking, ownership, enterprise growth and development, and related business activities that constitute the creative dimension of the ‘creative destruction’ process described by economist Joseph Schumpeter.”

Key features of the Institute’s program include a School-run venture capital fund and in-company experiential learning for students at locations from Michigan to Israel. “Michigan’s stock-in-trade,” White noted, “is combining the intellectual capital of a major research institution with innovative hands-on developmental experiences for students, producing graduates who are adept at turning knowledge into action.”

Zell is chairman of Equity Group Investments, headquartered in Chicago. Ann Lurie is the widow of Zell’s late business partner, Robert H. Lurie. The $10 million gift is the second largest to an American business school for entrepreneurship, and one of the three largest gifts in the Business School’s history.

“This will give the University of Michigan Business School what it needs to take its strengths in entrepreneurship and set a new standard for what business school entrepreneurship programs should be,” Zell said. “The quality of the Business School combined with its track record as an innovator makes me confident this is a smart investment.”

The University, Lurie added, “has exciting strengths and talented people in so many areas. The Business School has outstanding people and I’m delighted to be able to help build this Institute to innovate and create superb opportunities for students.”

The Institute will be headed by Thomas Kinnear, the first holder of the Business School’s Eugene Applebaum Professorship in Entrepreneurship, named for the founder of Arbor Drugs. Kinnear, also former vice president for development, is a successful investor in startup ventures.

Commenting on the gift, President Lee C. Bollinger said, “I am deeply grateful to Sam Zell and Ann Lurie for their continued confidence in and generosity to the University of Michigan. Our excellent Business School will be able to make even greater contributions in the areas of individual opportunity, outreach to our state and economic growth as a result of this gift. In this and many other ways, Sam and Ann are truly making a difference on our campus, in Michigan and throughout the nation.”

The Sam Zell-Robert Lurie partnership is highly regarded in the business world. The pair began working together while students at the U-M in the early 1960s, first setting up an apartment cleaning service and then buying apartment buildings in southeast Michigan. Among the fruits of that partnership are the nation’s largest apartment and office property real estate investment trusts—Equity Residential Properties Trust and Equity Office Properties Trust. Zell serv es as chairman of the board of both companies. Robert Lurie died in 1990 at the age of 48. Ann Lurie is an active investor and philanthropist.

Zell and Ann Lurie are major benefactors of the University. Zell endowed the Robert H. Lurie Professorship of Engineering in 1995 and the Samuel Zell Professorship in the Economics of Risk in the Department of Economics in 1997, and also created a strategic fund for use by the dean of the Law School that same year.

In 1993, Lurie made a $12 million commitment that led to the construction of the Robert H. Lurie Engineering Center and the landmark Ann and Robert H. Lurie Tower on North Campus, both of which were dedicated in 1996. She and her children endowed the Marion Elizabeth Blue Endowed Professor of Children and Families in the School of Social Work.