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Martha and Spencer Love School of Business kicks off anniversary year

The announcement of two major gifts highlighted a 25th anniversary gala event for Elon University's Martha and Spencer Love School of Business. Students, faculty, staff and friends of the school gathered Feb. 5 to kick off a yearlong celebration of the school's founding in 1985. The gala featured the announcements of major gifts by Elon parent and trustee David Porter and the Martha and Spencer Love Foundation.

Porter's gift will endow the Porter Family Professional Development Center in the business school. The Porter Center will support student participation in internships as well as networking and job placement activities, among other career initiatives. Porter has been a member of the university’s Parent’s Council along with his wife, Jennifer, and is joining Elon's Board of Trustees. Their son, Tim, is a senior business major and a Doherty Scholar in the business school’s Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

"I hope that what our family is going to do in the future is find more students who want to go through the process of getting a great four-year education and come out and make a meaningful contribution," Porter said.

The Martha and Spencer Love Foundation made the original $1 million gift in 1985 to endow Elon's business program. The Elon board of trustees voted to name the program The Martha and Spencer Love School of Business in memory of the foundation’s benefactors. At the time, the gift was the largest in the 97-year history of the college. This new gift, announced by Charles Love at the gala, will support faculty excellence initiatives in the Love School.

"This school is truly remarkable. And today, judging from the creative energy that one senses on being on this campus, and talking with highly motivated students, excellent faculty and the leadership of the school, I have no doubt that the next 25 years will be just as remarkable," Love said.

Mary Gowan, dean of the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business

The legacy of Spencer Love's business success provided the theme for the gala. Love began his career by investing $3,000 in a cotton mill. When he died at the age of 65, he had built a billion dollar enterprise that spanned the globe. His firm, Burlington Industries operated 147 plants in eight countries and employed 65,000 people. At the time of his death, Burlington Industries was the world’s largest textile firm and the 48th largest corporation in the country.

“One of the announcements of Spencer Love’s passing noted three qualities that set him apart: vision, courage, and initiative,” Mary Gowan, dean of the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, said in her welcoming remarks. “What an honor it is for Elon’s School of Business to carry the name Spencer Love. And what a responsibility it is for us to live up to the values that he lived. If we as faculty and staff of the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business can enable students to be visionary, courageous leaders who understand the importance of initiative and integrity as did Spencer Love, we will have succeeded well."

Elon University Provost Steven House reflected on the legacy of Martha Love. “She served for a time as personnel director at J.B. Ivey Co. in Charlotte before her marriage to Spencer Love, and was the first woman in the state to join the Women’s Army Corps in World War II. She was dedicated to her family and served in many volunteer and philanthropic leadership roles," House said.

In 1974, Martha Love received the highest honor of the School of Medicine at UNC Chapel Hill, the Distinguished Service Award. It was Martha Love who founded the J. Spencer Love Foundation which later became the Martha and Spencer Love Foundation which endowed the School of Business at Elon.

David P. King, chair and chief executive officer of Laboratory Corporation of America, was the gala's featured speaker for the gala and focused on lessons provided by the rise and eventual demise of Burlington Industries. He encouraged students to study Spencer Love's attention to planning and detail, his focus and his understanding of the importance of taking risk.

"Spencer Love took many risks. He started a business during difficult times, he grew during the depression, he transformed a North Carolina company into a national and international power," King noted. "Some of his initiatives failed, but this must be so. As I often remind my team, if everything we do is successful, then we're not doing anything hard. If we're going to innovate in business, if we're going to change the way we look at the world, we must take risks."

William Creekmuir, chair of the Love School's board of advisors and executive vice president and chief financial officer of Simmons Bedding Company, said all involved with the school are passionate about its mission. "When I think about the future of the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, it's the passion that is here that will make it successful," Creekmuir said.

President Leo M. Lambert leads a toast to honor the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business.

In the gala's finale, Elon President Leo M. Lambert led a toast, saying the school's first 25 years have passed "in a blur of excitement and accomplishment." He called on the school to "continue to be shining beacon of excellence for the university."

Today, the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business is a leader in transformative business education, upholding the high ideals of the American free enterprise system embraced by Spencer Love. The school is accredited by AACSB International—The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, an honor achieved by less than five percent of business schools in the world.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek recognized the Elon MBA in their most recent ranking as #1 in the south and #6 in the nation. The Princeton Review regularly includes the program in its best business schools lists. During this academic year, students in the undergraduate program have won top honors in a national ethics competition and in national and international sales competitions.

Students are taking jobs with major corporations such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, SAP, SAS and EMC, as well as joining nonprofits including Teach for America and entering graduate programs at top universities including Harvard and Vanderbilt.

David Porter announces the Porter Family Professional Development Center.
Dan Anderson,
3/11/2011 9:48 AM