$5 Million Pledge to Foster Economic Development, Impact Future Leaders
East Carolina University will establish the Miller School of Entrepreneurship in the College of Business, providing opportunities for ECU students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset.
East Carolina University today announced its plan to create the first School of Entrepreneurship in the East, made possible by a generous commitment of $5 million by a Raleigh area entrepreneur, J. Fielding Miller, and his wife, Kim Grice Miller.
The new Miller School of Entrepreneurship is expected to serve as the regional hub for preparing generations of East Carolina students to take an entrepreneurial mindset into their communities. The school will infuse a culture of innovation and leadership across the campus and region using academic programs, workshops, research, public-private entrepreneurial partnerships and other services that respond to the needs of small business.
Miller, ECU alumnus and co-founder/CEO of CAPTRUST, a financial and investment advisory firm based in Raleigh, will provide the funds for this initiative, to include startup funding, a professorship in entrepreneurship and a matching pool to challenge other ECU alumni to join in supporting the school.
The development of a School of Entrepreneurship comes as East Carolina is experiencing campus-wide momentum related to its innovation, engagement and economic impact initiatives. In July the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities designated East Carolina as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity campus, placing it alongside universities such as Auburn, Clemson and the University of Maryland.
Dr. Stan Eakins, dean of the College of Business, said, “Modern business requires innovation to be successful. It doesn’t matter which industry, or whether it is a start-up or large established firm; competition demands that businesses constantly seek new and better ways to operate and serve their communities. That’s why it’s so critical to instill essential entrepreneurial abilities among our future leaders, and we’re grateful for this bold opportunity to lead the way.”
Miller said, “Entrepreneurship gave me the opportunity to achieve independence, the ability to profit from hard work and the capacity to give back in a meaningful way. I hope this gift will encourage other ECU alumni and entrepreneurs to support this effort, and extend the school’s impact even further.” Associate Professor Michael Harris, who serves as chair of the Department of Management and director of ECU’s Small Business Institute, said he sees the new school becoming a national model for educating and encouraging entrepreneurs. “We want students to come in and open their minds and say, ‘I want to be a job creator’ instead of someone who works for a corporation,” he said.
Campus-wide collaboration will be essential to the new school’s success, complementing services and activities already offered, including the Office of Innovation and Economic Development, Office of Technology Transfer, Small Business Institute, and Small Business Technology and Development Center. The School of Entrepreneurship is expected to be an active part of ECU’s newly proposed millennial campus, a site where the university can collaborate with private companies to commercialize research discoveries and offer advanced training to benefit the region’s high-tech industries.
Miller graduated from ECU in 1984 with a degree in business marketing. In 2013, the university honored him with the Outstanding Alumni Award.
Over the past 25 years, CAPTRUST has grown under Miller’s tutelage from its entrepreneurial beginnings to become one of the nation’s largest independently-owned and operated retirement advisory firms, specializing in providing investment advice and services to retirement plan fiduciaries, executives, and high-net-worth individuals. CAPTRUST currently represents $160 billion in client assets, and has 22 offices nationwide. To learn more about CAPTRUST, visit www.captrustadvisors.com.
Miller is active in supporting East Carolina, including terms on the ECU Board of Trustees, the ECU Foundation Board of Directors, and the ECU Business Advisory Council. In 2011, he and his wife Kim (ECU ’83) established several Access Scholarships to help academically gifted students in need of financial support.
He and his wife have two daughters, Cameron, 28, and Lauren, 25.