Good News, Bad News for Atlanta Business Schools

Two Atlanta-based business schools have announced changes that illustrate the benefits and dangers of pledges from entrepreneurs, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

While Emory University's Goizueta Business School has announced a $5 million pledge from W. Cliff Oxford in support of its executive MBA program, Georgia Tech University has announced that businessman Tom DuPree has been unable to honor his $25 million commitment to the school's College of Management and will forfeit the naming opportunity he received when he made the pledge.

Oxford, an Emory alumnus, founded STI Knowledge in 1995 and sold the Atlanta-based company last year. The executive MBA program, which will be named for him, gives working professionals a chance to earn a master's degree in business administration on a schedule that minimizes disruption of work. "There are businesses that are adding jobs, that have great growth rates, that are very profitable," said the 41-year-old entrepreneur. "They all have one common trait: They have entrepreneurial leaders who know how to add value and create value and pick the right niches to build wealth."

Meanwhile, Georgia Tech president Wayne Clough said he had received a letter from DuPree saying he wasn't sure he would be able to fulfill his $20 million pledge by October 2005, when the final payment is due. DuPree, a Georgia Tech graduate, made his first gift to the school — $5 million for an entrepreneurship center — in 1994. He later pledged another $20 million to the College of Management, which led university officials to rename the college in his honor. But Dupreee's ability to make good on his pledge was badly compromised after he was removed as chairman and chief executive officer of Georgia-based Avado Brands, the company he founded, in November. At one time, the company was the largest franchisee of Applebee's restaurants in the nation. But its stock declined sharply over the last several years, taking the value of Dupree's pledge to Georgia Tech, which was mostly in company stock, down with it. The company filed for Chapter 11 in February.

Meanwhile, Georgia Tech president Wayne Clough said he had received a letter from DuPree in which the businessman indicated he might not be able to fulfill his $20 million pledge by October 2005, when the final payment is due. DuPree, a Georgia Tech graduate, made his first gift to the school — $5 million for an entrepreneurship center — in 1994. He later pledged another $20 million to its College of Management, which led university officials to rename the college in his honor. But Dupree's ability to make good on his pledge was seriously compromised after he was removed as chairman and chief executive officer of Georgia-based Avado Brands, the company he founded, in November. At one time, the company was the largest franchisee of Applebee's restaurants in the nation. But its stock — and the value of Dupree's pledge, which was mostly in the form of company stock, has declined significantly in recent years, leading the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February.

"He's an entrepreneur," said Clough, who added that DuPree continued to hope he would be able to honor his commitment to the school. "He's a fighter, and he's convinced he's got another round in him."

Robert Luke. "Entrepreneur Gives Emory $5 Million." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 02/28/2004. Maria Saporta. "Georgia Tech Removes DuPree's Name From Business School." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 03/05/2004.