The gift will name the Collier Student Success Center
TAMPA, Fla. (Aug. 27, 2015) – The University of South Florida announced today that it has received a $10.85 million gift from Barron (Barry) Gift Collier III and his wife, Dana Collier, to name a unit of the business school that focuses on student success and career preparedness programs. Effective immediately, the office will be known as the Collier Student Success Center at USF’s Muma College of Business. The gift is part of the $1 billion USF: Unstoppable Campaign.
The Collier family has been a longtime supporter of the Muma College of Business, particularly to student scholarships and the college’s Corporate Mentor Program, which serves students who are the first in their families to attend college. A recent gift of $180,000, outside of the newly announced gift, expanded the program so that more students could benefit from its services offered and professional development coursework.
Collier is a 1980 graduate of the USF Muma College of Business, and was a director of the USF Fort Myers Foundation board from 1987 to 1992. Dana Collier graduated from the Central Ohio Technical College, which is affiliated with The Ohio State University, and chose to stay home and raise their four children: Barron, Alexandra, Lara, and Christopher. Collier is chair of the Barron Collier Partnership, which is dedicated to the responsible development, management, and stewardship of the partnership’s extensive land holdings and other assets in the businesses of agriculture, real estate, and mineral management.
“We are deeply grateful to Barry and Dana Collier for a gift that will have an enormous and positive impact on USF business students and their future achievements. Our university’s most important mission is preparing students for success in life, and this extraordinary gift will ensure that our students – particularly those who are the first in their families to attend college – have the skills, mentoring and preparation they need to be successful from the start,” said USF System President Judy Genshaft.
“After meeting with President Genshaft several years ago, the mission of the Corporate Mentor Program resonated with Barry: giving first generation students the chance to gain professional skills and have personal attention that could help them succeed,” said Joel Momberg, CEO of the USF Foundation. “The Collier family has a strong history of investment in Florida’s future, and we are thrilled that the Colliers have chosen to continue that investment by giving back to USF.”
USF Muma College of Business Dean Moez Limayem said the Colliers’ generosity will continue to transform the lives of many future generations of business students.
“The Colliers have given so generously to the Muma College of Business because they have seen firsthand what a difference their gifts have made to our students,” Limayem said. “We believe every student should have a meaningful job upon graduation, in their field, with a good salary. Students’ backgrounds or financial concerns should not prevent them from achieving their degrees and their dreams, and with this gift, USF can help them overcome those obstacles. This gift, more than ever before, will help us achieve this dream.”
The Colliers’ gift will prepare a new generation of business graduates. The $10.85 million will enhance USF programs that teach students communication skills, sales skills, leadership, ethics, public speaking, networking, and other training that goes beyond what students can learn in textbooks. Thanks to the Colliers’ generosity, increasing numbers of business students will have access to these programs.
“We think that’s what all colleges and universities should be shooting for,” Collier said. “These students, their hopes and their dreams, are being fulfilled.”
The Collier family has a history of philanthropy and success in Florida. Collier County, where Naples is located, is named after Collier’s grandfather, Barron Gift Collier Sr. An entrepreneur who made his fortune in streetcar advertising, Barron Collier Sr. was responsible for purchasing and developing much of Southwest Florida, eventually acquiring 1.3 million acres. He brought the area into the 20th century, introducing the first telephone service, railroad, newspapers, and bus company. He has a lasting legacy in Florida’s transportation system: He constructed part of the Tamiami Trail, connecting the Southwest and Southeast coasts of Florida. In addition to giving to USF, the Colliers also support Florida Gulf Coast University (formerly USF Fort Myers).
“Giving philosophy has been infused throughout the family,” Collier said. “You’ve got to figure out what areas speak to your heart and move in that direction.”
“It’s a testament to the university and to the leadership of the university that they have put the students first,” Collier said. “When people give to a university, they want to know that it impacts students on a personal level.”
Collier has attended the Muma College of Business scholarship luncheon every year since 2011. Each time, he has met with students in the Corporate Mentor Program who receive the scholarship he sponsors, and he said he continues to be inspired and touched by their stories of perseverance.
“We hear about American Dream being lost, and here is a program that’s doing exactly the opposite,” Collier said. “When you get to talk to the students, you see their passion and their desire and drive to get a good education, and to be able to get out there and make a difference in the world. They certainly inspire you to believe it.”
As the Colliers’ four children have left home to go to college, Barron and Dana Collier have begun to think about their legacy of giving. Collier said being able to help USF students, especially those in the Corporate Mentor Program, far into the future was a large part of why he and Dana decided on the naming gift.
“I would like to see the Muma College of Business alumni and the business community step up and add to the program,” Collier said. “Four hundred students applied this year. Shouldn’t 400 students be able to participate?”
The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 50 research university among both public and private institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving nearly 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.5 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.