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 , 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."