The University of Colorado at Boulder College of Business has received a $35 million commitment from the Leeds family of New York to endow the CU-Boulder business school. The endowment will support academic excellence, social responsibility and diversity.
Michael and Richard Leeds are graduates of CU-Boulder. The CU Board of Regents will consider a resolution next week to rename the college the "Leeds School of Business."
The Leeds' commitment is the sixth largest in the nation to a business school and the largest ever received by the Boulder campus. The Coleman gift, the largest in history to a public university, was made to CU's four-campus system last January.
The gift will support the study and teaching of social responsibility and diversity, advance academic programs and make it possible to compete for more top faculty.
"We are extremely appreciative to the Leeds family for recognizing and supporting the strength of our school," said Steven Manaster, dean of the Leeds School of Business. "The success of a great university is based on creating positive societal change. We look forward to partnering with the Leeds to explore personal, societal and business values."
In 1984, Michael Leeds joined CMP Media, the Long Island high-tech publishing company started by his parents in 1971. He was CEO from 1988 to 1999, when the company was sold to a British publishing company after going public in 1997.
"Some of the best years of my life were those at CU," Michael Leeds said. "My professors were good and the school prepared me well for a career in business.
"In addition to education, I attribute our company's financial success to our commitment to social responsibility," he said. "Businesses do well by doing good. A company's financial success is linked to its contributions to the community and the way it treats its employees. CMP was a great model.
"Our goal is to help the University of Colorado achieve similar success, and produce graduates who enter the work force with a solid background in personal, societal and business values," said Leeds. "We also want to recognize leading socially responsible businesses and further research in the area."
Gerry and Lilo Leeds established CMP Media Inc. and built it into a model of excellence in business practices and community activity. The 28-year-old family business was one of the first companies to offer on-site daycare, which helped the company's retention rates and consistently increasing sales.
In the 1990s the company was a six-time honoree of Working Woman Magazine's annual "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" list and won Mass Mutual's 1997 Family Business of the Year Award. Fortune magazine recognized CMP Media as one of its "Top 100 Companies to Work For."
In addition to endowing capital projects and curriculum development, the gift will support two annual award ceremonies to recognize socially responsible and environmentally friendly corporations. They will include companies that have demonstrated success in areas such as engaging in environmentally sustainable practices, reducing adverse environmental impacts, recycling, maintaining natural habitats and improving efficient use of natural resources. Also included will be companies that demonstrate business ethics in the global economy, sustainable business enterprise and social venture entrepreneurship.
The gift also will support the business school's diversity programs, which are among CU President Betsy Hoffman's CU 2010 goals. "With national populations growing increasingly diverse, it's extremely important that the University of Colorado educate students on these issues. This gift will help us achieve this goal," Hoffman said.
As the first endowed school on the Boulder campus, the gift will bring acclaim to CU-Boulder. "This is a historic moment," said CU-Boulder Chancellor Richard Byyny. "Strong alumni support is an important complement to our academic mission and progress. We greatly appreciate the Leeds' contribution to our success. I also commend Dean Manaster for his foresight, vision and commitment that led to this gift coming to fruition."
Leeds family contributors to the gift include Gerry and Lilo Leeds, Michael and Andrea Leeds, Greg Leeds, Dan and Sunita Leeds, and Richard Leeds and his wife, Anne Kroeker, as well as other siblings.
More information on the Leeds family and gift is available on the Web site at: http://leeds.colorado.edu.