In a five week period between early September and mid-October, the University of South Florida system saw its two Colleges of Business undergo monumental changes.
While the USF Saint Petersburg Kate Tiedemann College of Business took a new name and broke ground on a new building - things we'll discuss on next week's University Beat - the College of Business on the Tampa campus also has a new name.
The USF Muma College of Business was formally unveiled in front of a standing-room only crowd in the lobby of College’s main building October 10th. The new name came as the result of a $25 million gift from Tampa businessman Les Muma and his wife, Pam.
The pair attended USF in the mid 1960’s while they were dating. Les graduated in 1966, one year after they were married.
He eventually went on to co-found Fiserv Inc. The provider of information technology services to the financial services industry grew from a small company with one location and a handful of employees to a Fortune 500 company with around 21,000 employees and more than 17,000 clients around the world.
"The College of Business is where we started. It's where we built the platform for my career and for our lives together. And it’s just a visible way for us to just say thank you to the College of Business and USF," Les Muma said shortly after the announcement of the largest single donation in the USF System’s history.
"I think the School of Business is like a rocket sitting on a launch pad, in final countdown ready to take off. It’s a transformation waiting to happen," Muma added. "Although we’re a very good business school today, we can become better, and I think, under (Dean) Moez Limayem’s leadership and his team’s leadership, we’ll become that elite college of business. I think it’s definitely in sight."
Response to the gift came from inside and outside the university, particularly focusing on the necessity of a business school that can turn out well-prepared graduates for the local workforce.
"We attract new businesses and they’re looking at Tampa Bay very, very seriously. When we have a named College of Business, particularly the Muma College of Business, that says this is really a top-notch place," USF System President Judy Genshaft said.
"As I go out to recruit corporations and to attract jobs, there’s going to be a ready source of labor of bright educated young people who will come out of this business school and be able to fill those types of jobs, create those clusters which corporations will be attracted to," added Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "This is a great day, it’s a great day for the Muma family, it’s a great day for USF, but it really is a great day for the City of Tampa."
The donation will also help create a pair of new programs: one is an externship program where faculty will take half a year off from teaching to work in an industry, allowing them to bring real world experiences back to the classroom to share with their students.
The second offering, the Muma Leadership program, will help students progress towards a career from the day they start at the school.
Dean Moez Limayem said those programs – along with other opportunities the Muma’s donation provides – will bring the college a step closer to one of his ultimate goals: a guarantee to business students of a job immediately upon graduation.
"Our data is very, very clear; it tells us that 96% of the students with internships have a job after graduation. A gift of this nature will help us guarantee an internship for every student," he said. "A gift like this one will help us supplement the classroom with professional development, networking, communication skills, elevator speech, mentoring and so on and so forth. This will facilitate the achievements of our dreams."
Helping USF and its students achieve their dreams has been something the Muma’s have tried to do for over 20 years. They’re the largest individual donors in school history, with donations of approximately $41.2 million to a variety of USF departments.
That includes as many as four full scholarships, including tuition, room and board, every year for USF Business students from their high school alma mater, Winter Haven High School. Pam Muma said the hope is that eventually, these students will follow in their footsteps and pay their generosity forward.
"One of the young women said, ‘Oh I just want to learn to be able to give back, because you all helped me so much, I want to go back in the community when I graduate and be able to help another young woman to reach the goals that I’ve reached,’ so, you know, they learn by doing, they really do," she said.
"And it works," Les added.
Other gifts from the couple to USF include a $6 million donation (matching gifts pushed the amount to $14 million) to USF Health that established the Jennifer Leigh Muma Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Tampa General Hospital in 2006. The NICU is named after their daughter, Jennifer, who died in a neonatal nursery in 1973.
They also donated a $3 million gift in 2008 for a practice facility for the USF men's and women's basketball teams.
You can hear more from the Mumas here and in the video below.