Davidson College in North Carolina has announced a $5 million gift from alumnus and venture philanthropist Jay Hurt to create a hub for local entrepreneurs, innovative local companies, and like-minded students and faculty.
The gift will be used to support the renovation of a 23,000-square-foot cotton mill off-campus as well as an endowment to support the hub's operation going forward. To be called the Jay Hurt Hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the facility and its programming will combine the hallmarks of liberal arts education — the development of critical thinking skills, the ability to communicate across audiences, the analysis of information from multiple perspectives — with hands-on experience gained through collaborative projects with industry partners, internships at local startups, and entrepreneurial ventures.
Among other features, the facility will house a 7,000-square-foot lab where students can work on long-term projects or business ventures, a data analytics factory, and a virtual reality lab; nearly 7,500 square feet of collaboration and meeting space; a 2,000-square-foot social commons with a self-service coffee bar, tables, couches, and chairs; and two anchor companies that will lease larger office suites and partner with Davidson students and faculty on collaborative projects, research, and internships.
A 1988 Davidson graduate, Hurt represents the third generation to lead his family's business in the lubrication industry. After forty years of local success, he led a successful transformation of the company's purpose and scope, resulting in expansion that significantly increased its market share and profitability.
"Jay's generosity and participation help make a revolutionary idea a daily reality for students, faculty, companies, and partners," said Davidson College president Carol E. Quillen. "It is a privilege to have the tremendous support of Jay, a successful businessman and passionate alumnus, as we navigate the future of innovation and entrepreneurship at Davidson. We hope his vision and leadership inspire others to get involved as well."