WFU receives $1 million gift for entrepreneurship program
April 23, 2007
Russ Hobbs, entrepreneur and founder of Blue Ocean Software, has donated $1 million to Wake Forest University for the Office for Entrepreneurship and the Liberal Arts (OELA). This is the first major endowment gift for the OELA.
Hobbs, a Tampa, Fla., resident and 1988 graduate of Wake Forest, established the Russell D. and Elfriede Hobbs Fund for Entrepreneurship and the Liberal Arts in honor of his parents. The fund will provide seed grants, internships and similar funds for undergraduate students who want to launch socially beneficial organizations, including charitable, educational, scientific and artistic enterprises. The gift will also fund major prizes for the most entrepreneurial ventures at Wake Forest each year.
"Wake Forest’s innovative approach to entrepreneurial education is unique in that it extends beyond the traditional definition of entrepreneurship to encompass scientific, intellectual, social and artistic value creation as well as economic. Combined with Wake Forest’s strong liberal arts education and focus on its motto, Pro Humanitate, I feel this program is leading the way in educating a new generation of entrepreneurs for the 21st century,” said Hobbs.
After graduating from Wake Forest with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, Hobbs began working in the information technology department of a large company. In 1990, he quit his job and started Blue Ocean Software with $6,000 and a help desk and asset management product he developed called Track-It!®.
Within 10 years, the company became a leading developer of help desk, PC inventory and full-featured systems management solutions and the Track-It! product line was the most widely-installed help desk software in the world.
Blue Ocean Software was listed as one of the fastest growing companies in the country for three consecutive years on Inc. magazine’s Inc. 500 list. It was also named to Software Magazine’s list of the top 500 largest software companies in the world. Hobbs sold Blue Ocean Software to Intuit in 2002 for $177 million in a transaction that Forbes magazine listed as one of the top five venture-capital backed deals in the U.S. for 2002.
"Russ Hobbs’ remarkable success as a creative entrepreneur is an inspiration to all aspiring entrepreneurs. His gift will provide students an opportunity to hone their entrepreneurial skills while at Wake Forest. This important gift will increase the entrepreneurship program’s momentum and credibility and provide permanent support for the future,” Elizabeth Gatewood, director of the OELA, said.
Wake Forest is considered a national leader in entrepreneurship education. In 2003, the university was selected as one of only eight universities nationwide to receive a matching grant ($2.16 million) from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to fund programs in entrepreneurship in the liberal arts. The OELA was established in 2004 as one component of the grant and is led by Gatewood, who has been named one of the top 10 entrepreneurship center directors in the country according to Entrepreneur magazine.
Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch said the endowment has far-reaching value for students and society at large.
"Because of Russ’ generosity, we can equip future entrepreneurial leaders for diverse career paths and boost the hopes, dreams and passions of our individual students while encouraging them to use those passions to serve their interests as well as the interests of others,” Hatch said.