Booth Receives Donation to Support Entrepreneurship Program

Trustee’s gift will support the Social Enterprise Initiative and the Social New Venture Challenge.

By Tim Cunningham

The Booth School of Business announced last week that it received a $5 million donation to support its social entrepreneurship program.

University of Chicago Trustee John Edwardson (M.B.A. ’72) donated $5 million to the Booth School of Business to support Chicago Booth’s Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI). This donation will establish the Edwardson Social Entrepreneurship Program, according to a Booth press release last week.

The gift will also provide financial support to the SEI and the Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC), an annual social entrepreneurship competition which Edwardson established with a gift of $5 million in 2013. Additionally, it will support co-curricular programming for students and post-SNVC ventures. This will include expanded participation in the Polsky Accelerator, which provides resources to multiple social ventures each year.

“John’s initial support played a foundational role in allowing SEI to build successful programs that support the diverse interests of our students and alumni to address social problems,” Robert Gertner, Joel F. Germunder Professor of Strategy and Finance and faculty co-director of the SEI, said in the press release.

In its sixth year, 75 companies have now participated in the SNVC, including Luminaid, BallotReady, and Hello Tractor.

“It is clear that that many Booth students and alumni, as well as other UChicago students from a variety of disciplines, are committed to making a meaningful impact on social issues, and this gift will bolster that commitment for current and future students,” Edwardson said, according to the press release.

In 2011, Edwardson retired as Chairman and CEO of CDW, LLC, a company which provides technological products and services. He had held this position since 2001. Prior to his time at CDW, he served as president of United Airlines, CFO of Northwest Airlines, and president of Burns International Services Corp.

Before earning his M.B.A. at Booth, he earned a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University in 1971. He has served on various boards, in addition to that of the University of Chicago. He serves on the board of directors of FedEx Corporation. He is also a Life Trustee of both the Ravinia Festival and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.