Jan. 29, 2013—The David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah today announced the creation of the James Lee Sorenson Center for Global Impact Investing. Created through a $13 million personal gift from James Lee Sorenson, the new center will engage students at the University of Utah and partner universities in creating sustainable change on regional and global levels through high-impact social investment, innovative curriculum and research.
“The James Lee Sorenson Center for Global Impact Investing will provide unparalleled experiences for our students and faculty to participate directly in solving some of the world’s thorniest and most persistent societal problems,” says David W. Pershing, president of the University of Utah. “The center will be a global leader in the creation of new knowledge of how to solve widespread structural problems, while training a generation of transformative leaders in social impact investment.”
To reflect these changes, the current James Lee Sorenson Leadership Pavilion at the David Eccles School of Business will be renamed the James Lee Sorenson Center for Global Impact Investing.
The new center will serve as a growth platform for the University Impact Fund, a joint venture launched in 2010 by the David Eccles School of Business, the Melvin J. Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance at Brigham Young University, James Lee Sorenson and global impact investor Geoff Woolley. The creation of the new center will accelerate the work of the fund, which cultivates impact investment expertise in students through real-world experience, while providing consulting and advisory services in the social entrepreneurship and impact investment sector. The center will continue to focus on servicing the growth of the rapidly expanding impact investing sector through research and thought leadership activities.
The problems the center will address run the societal gamut, from healthcare and education to housing, sustainable and green energy, agriculture, and entrepreneurial livelihood training and development. In addition to its investment involvement, the center will focus on research that fosters greater understanding of how free enterprise can be employed to create large-scale societal change; curriculum development, including a proposed minor in Impact Investing, to teach and train students; and applied market research that will disseminate the knowledge developed at the center to a global audience. For both undergraduate and graduate students, the center will provide a rich array of fellowship opportunities in social impact throughout the world.
“The University Impact Fund has been an indispensable part of my graduate education,” said Preston Robinson, a graduate student at the University’s David Eccles School of Business working toward a dual MBA and MHA. “I have benefited immensely from the opportunity to work on real-world projects that have allowed me to apply classroom concepts and develop my skills. I have enjoyed the work environment and the diverse projects and people I am exposed to. This experience has been instrumental in guiding me in identifying a career path once I graduate.”
The Sorenson Center for Global Impact Investing will sponsor two endowed faculty chairs: a business chair that will be held by an academic scholar with international prominence in social entrepreneurship research and scholarship, and an applied research chair focused on direct application of innovative research in field work.
James Lee Sorenson will play an active role in setting the direction for the center and mentoring its student participants. A globally recognized entrepreneur and multifaceted business leader, Sorenson has built highly successful companies in industries ranging from technology and life sciences to real estate and private equity investment. He helped develop several new industry categories, including digital compression software that helped usher in the online video revolution at Sorenson Media, and video relay services that transformed opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing individuals through Sorenson Communications.
“It is an honor to participate in this venture, which has the potential to effect genuine societal change and improve the quality of life for countless individuals throughout the world,” says Sorenson. “On a personal level, this center is an opportunity to apply on a greater scale the lessons I learned about high-impact societal change at Sorenson Communications, where the major risk we made in time, energy and money yielded extraordinary returns in opening up brand new personal and professional possibilities for deaf and hard of hearing individuals.”
For more information about the James Lee Sorenson Center for Global Impact Investing at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business, visit http://www.sgiicenter.com.
About the David Eccles School of Business
From its beginnings in 1896 as part of the Economics and Sociology Department, what is now the David Eccles School of Business (http://www.business.utah.edu) educates nearly 3,500 students a year, and boasts more than 31,000 alumni. Students manage a university venture fund of $18.3 million, the largest of its kind in the nation. In January 2012, the school opened its new, $72 million Spencer F. Eccles Building, offering students a cutting-edge learning environment packed with state-of-the-art technology.