Gift establishes entrepreneurship center at H-SC
Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) announced Friday in a press release the establishment of the Flemming Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, made possible by a $1 million gift from the Flemming Foundation and 1985 alumnus Todd Flemming of Orlando, Florida, a Hampden-Sydney trustee and chairman of Infrasafe.
“We are excited by the many ways this initiative will strengthen student entrepreneurship and foster innovation and creativity across our campus,” said newly-inaugurated Hampden-Sydney President Dr. Larry Stimpert.
According to the release, the center is named in memory of Flemming’s father, Harry S. Flemming, and will incorporate the programming of the former Center for Entrepreneurship and Political Economy at H-SC.
Referring to what Hampden-Sydney offers, Todd Flemming said, “It’s a liberal arts education, which is a perfect foundation for entrepreneurs. A lot of Hampden-Sydney graduates are, in fact, entrepreneurs. And so finding a way to sort of spark some of those ideas and creativity before they graduate may help some of the students come up with ideas, potentially funding and the other things to be able to start businesses.”
In the release, Stimpert noted that since the founding of H-SC more than 240 years ago, Hampden-Sydney men have become successful entrepreneurs and business leaders.
“The Flemming Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation will offer our students extraordinary opportunities to hone their entrepreneurial skills and harness creativity as they confront real world challenges and develop inventive business concepts,” Stimpert said in the release. “Todd’s generosity will strengthen the Hampden-Sydney experience and open a world of possibilities for our students.”
The president also expressed gratitude in the release on behalf of the school to professors Justin Isaacs, Tony Carilli, Greg Dempster, Geoff Lea, Mark Hight and Patrick Wilson for their outstanding work with the Center for Entrepreneurship and Political Economy.
“The vision for the center includes a full-time director, an endowed ‘entrepreneur-in-residence,’ and the establishment of a Tiger Venture Fund, which would support student entrepreneurs by enabling them to develop prototypes and explore the commercial viability of their ideas,” officials said in the release. “This vision also includes a ‘flex office’ that will provide a professional base for visiting entrepreneurs who will be readily accessible to students and faculty, offering expertise, encouraging constructive creativity and providing mentoring and support.”
“My father was an entrepreneur and a visionary, and he taught me so much about success in both business and life,” Flemming said in the release. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to honor his memory.”
The release indicated that the Flemming Center will be housed in Hampden-Sydney’s new Brown Student Center, a state-of-the-art facility nearing completion that is an $11 million project made possible by seven individual gifts of $1 million or more.
“Beginning in the fall of 2017, the Brown Student Center will be the nexus of campus life at Hampden-Sydney, offering a central location for student services and activities, as well as common spaces for casual interaction and socializing,” officials said in the release.
With previous involvement with the Center for Entrepreneurship and Political Economy, Flemming said Stimpert asked him for his thoughts, and the result of their conversation was the mindset to think bigger.
“I said, ‘Well, I’d be honored to be able to participate,’” Flemming said. “I think it’s good timing with the opening of the student center to be able to put this together, and then we still have some bigger plans. We want to endow some positions for directors, we want to basically be able to have some ‘entrepreneurs-in-residence’ to work with the students, and then expand on the Tiger Fund, which is more an investment fund.”
Officials said in the press release, “Economics and business is the college’s most popular major, and past entrepreneurship contests held at Hampden-Sydney have helped prepare students for careers as entrepreneurs. In addition, the Tiger Fund, an entirely student-managed live equities portfolio, offers select economics majors the opportunity to gain valuable experience making investment decisions for a live fund.