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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published September 24 2010

Concordia College closer to $50M target after Offutt's record donation for business school

A $50 million fundraising campaign will give Concordia College students a new business facility and more real-world experience.

Concordia announced on Thursday it has raised nearly $37 million to­ward its goal to support the business school, the college’s largest program.

It will be named the Offutt School of Business after Ron Offutt, a Concordia alumnus and businessman who is the lead donor.

Nearly $13 million will be used to renovate Concordia’s Grant Center as the home for the school.

About $5 million will be used for startup costs associated with launching a new curriculum, hiring six new faculty members and adding new programs, said Dean Greg Cant.

The remaining $32 million will be used to establish an endowment to provide ongoing support for the program, Cant said.

Offutt, chairman of Concordia’s Board of Regents, contributed an undisclosed amount toward the $37 million that has been raised.

Concordia officials called Offutt’s donation the single largest gift in the college’s history.

“This is the kind of impact gift that shapes the history of an institution like ours,” said interim President Paul Dovre.

Previously, Concordia’s largest public gift was $7.5 million from Earl and Dorothy Olson for the Olson Skyway. Concordia also has received anonymous donations in that range, a spokeswoman said.

Offutt is founder and chairman of R.D. Offutt Co., the nation’s largest producer of potatoes. He also is founder and chairman of RDO Equipment Co., which owns the largest network of John Deere construction and agricultural dealerships in the country.

Offutt, a 1964 Concordia graduate, said he believes in the college’s mission and its investment in the next generation of business leaders.

“When it comes to influencing the affairs of the world, Concordia means business, and I’m really excited to be a part of it,” Offutt said.

Concordia did not disclose how many other donors have contributed. No donors other than Offutt were acknowledged at a news conference Thursday.

Work to renovate the facility is expected to start in the spring and be open for classes by fall 2012.

The Grant Center, on the east side of Eighth Street South between two residence halls, was designed for food service but today is primarily unused.

Concordia established a School of Business in 2008 with the addition of Dean Cant. The college has 650 majors, or about 23 percent of Concordia students.

Cant said Concordia aims to differentiate its business program in four key areas: ethics, global business, entrepreneurship and leadership.

The new business curriculum will be launched for freshmen next fall, Cant said.

Concordia also will add new programs to give students more real-world experience. An entrepreneurship fund will allow students to develop their business ideas.

Students can also participate in an investment club to make “real-time investments with real capital and real consequences,” Cant said.

The program also will give students the opportunity to interact with business leaders. Concordia will begin housing the Small Business Development Center that is currently at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

During Thursday’s announcement, Dovre and Offutt said former President Pamela Jolicouer’s vision led to the establishment of the business school.

“She was the driving inspiration that made it happen,” Offutt said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590