NDSU President Bresciani announces $4.5 Million endowment for entrepreneurship and innovation

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A new endowed chair at North Dakota State University will galvanize the institution’s growing entrepreneurial culture, thanks to a $4.5 million endowment established through the NDSU Foundation and Alumni Association.

The investment establishes the President Jim Ozbun Chair of Entrepreneurship, with goals of nurturing faculty excellence in entrepreneurship education and encouraging students to pursue big ideas and innovative thinking and activity.

The endowed chair – just NDSU’s third such position – will honor Dr. Jim Ozbun, who served as its president from 1988 to 1995.

“Entrepreneurial thinking and innovation are key to an educated, productive workforce and society,” said NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani. “This endowment is a game changer in catalyzing a greater emphasis on this important skill, by supporting student scholarships, programs and the excellence of faculty who work in entrepreneurial education to connect to the local and state business community.”

NDSU’s College of Business will begin a national search to select the inaugural holder of the Ozbun Chair. Scholarships will be awarded to selected students pursuing any major and who express interest in creative activity and innovation.

The Ozbun Chair follows the establishment of the Neil C. Gudmestad Endowed Chair of Potato Pathology and the CHS Chair in Risk Management and Trading, all three of which have been established within the past three years. In addition, all three endowments have received matching funds from the North Dakota Higher Education Challenge Fund. The Challenge Fund provided $1.5 million to the entrepreneurship endowment.

“The North Dakota higher education challenge fund investments in students, faculty and programs are transforming North Dakota’s economy and workforce,” Bresciani said. “Partnerships between philanthropists, the state and university create exponential opportunities, and we’re grateful to all those involved.”

The incoming dean of the College of Business also expressed appreciation for the endowment gift and the impact it will have.

“This investment in our students and faculty speaks volumes about the value of an NDSU degree and the importance of teaching our students about innovation, sound business practices and brilliant product quality,” said Scott Beaulier, incoming Dean of the College Business. “The impact of this investment will be felt for generations, and it will directly influence NDSU’s goal of being one of the country’s leading education and research institutions.”

The investment honors Ozbun, a native of Flasher, N.D., who completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in soil science from NDSU. He earned his doctorate in plant physiology from North Carolina State University in 1964. Ozbun’s academic career took him to Cornell University, University of Minnesota, Kansas State University and Washington State University before returning to NDSU in 1988 as president.

During Ozbun’s tenure at NDSU, his accomplishments included assisting with gaining approval for the FargoDome, supporting and encouraging development of NDSU Staff Senate, creation of the NDSU Biotechnology Institute and the NDSU Institute for Business and Industry Development, leading the effort for building the Industrial Agricultural and Computer Center, and spearheading NDSU’s Century II: Charting the Course long-range plan.

He was instrumental in creating the Employee Recognition Program, the Pharm.D. program, and EPSCoR. He advocated cooperative programs with the North Dakota State College of Science and Valley City State University. He partnered with the NDSU Foundation and Alumni Association to organize and execute a $20 million fundraising campaign, promoted the Spring Gala Pops Concerts and supported the restoration of the Lincoln Log Cabin on the top floor of Old Main.

Today, Ozbun and his wife, Sonja, live in Dickinson, N.D.

“It is a real honor to have the endowed chair in Entrepreneurial Studies established,” said Ozbun. “I have many fond memories of my time at NDSU both as a student and then returning years later as president. It is a unique experience to walk the same sidewalks and enter the same buildings as president as I had done as a student. While I was there as a student, the university moved from NDAC to NDSU and students actively participated in the process. As president, I am most proud of establishing the Pharm.D. program in the College of Pharmacy, the formation of the Division of Fine Arts, establishing the Research Foundation, and establishing the first Staff Senate in North Dakota.”

The NDSU Foundation and Alumni Association is an institutionally-related foundation dedicated to building enduring relationships to maximize advocacy and philanthropy to support NDSU.


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