Grant Thornton makes large contribution to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and significant investment in the future of education
Architect’s rendering of lecture hall on left.
On March 16, Grant Thornton LLP presented a check for $30,000 to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This is the first installment of a $300,000 donation to be made over the next ten years for the university’s new Business Instructional Facility.
The contribution was formally presented to Dean Avijit Ghosh of the College of Business of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in a ceremony held at Grant Thornton’s downtown office. Partner and Chicago Business Advisory Services Practice Leader Warren Stippich and Midwest Region Office Managing Partner Mike Hall represented the firm during the presentation.
“This commitment is a milestone for the firm,” said Stippich, a University of Illinois College of Business graduate who spearheaded the partnership in October 2006 during a formal announcement after the Lyceum presentation on campus which featured National Managing Partner of Strategic Relationships, Cono Fusco.
“We have a very long tradition of connection with Grant Thornton, and we’re producing the next generations of talent that will be very valuable to the firm,” said Ghosh. “We (Grant Thornton and University of Illinois College of Business) share a common element – We are both in the talent business, the people business. We try to recruit the best people and talent.”
The Business Instructional Facility will be completed in the summer of 2008 and provide 160,000+ square feet of space to accommodate state of the art classrooms, career development and academic counseling centers, student program offices, a recruitment suite, a 300 seat auditorium, and spaces for students to meet and study. The $300,000 firm contribution will be earmarked for the construction of a Grant Thornton lecture hall, conference room or instruction room within the new facility.
“This Grant Thornton Classroom will be available for future generations to use,” said Stippich. “Our pledge demonstrates the firm’s continued and increased commitment to the University of Illinois, particularly to the College of Business, creates continued visibility for Grant Thornton on campus, and fosters an increased fueling of top students interested in careers at Grant Thornton.”
The College of Business is composed of 3,000 undergraduate students and 800 graduate students. The design and layout of the new Business Instructional Facility, the campus’s first sustainable building, encourages interaction because business and management education today are defined by teamwork and hands-on learning. For example, public spaces are found primarily on the first floor and students will be drawn to the upper floors for classes. This will result in full use of the building and enhanced interaction.
This emphasis on community is in response to the changing nature of business classes and a lot of research went into creating an optimal learning environment, noted Ghosh. “There’s a lot of team building and group projects in business classes.”
Increasing collaborative work not only fosters personal interaction, but also instills the sense of becoming professional leaders. Ghosh said that students are beginning to realize that leadership isn’t merely a long-term goal; it’s how you live your life everyday. He also noted the university and firm shared a similar passion for excellence and leadership within the business community.
“Business school is no longer just about being great accountants; it’s about being great leaders,” said Ghosh.
The new facility, which did not receive any public funding, is being made possible through current student tuition, generous gifts from alumni, friends of the College and corporations such as Grant Thornton, and the assets it produces will be invaluable to those who contributed. According to Ghosh, the facility will reflect the College’s stature and symbolize its commitment to the future.
“We really do see it as a partnership,” said Hall. “It’s really an investment in our future, the profession’s future and the university’s future.
About Grant Thornton
Grant Thornton LLP is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International, one of the leading global accounting, tax and business advisory organizations. Through member firms in more than 110 countries, including 50 offices in the United States, the partners and employees of Grant Thornton member firms provide personalized attention and the highest quality service to public and private clients around the globe. Visit Grant Thornton LLP at www.GrantThornton.com.