Florida State University received its largest gift in school history this week: a $100 million pledge from the family of the late Jim Moran and the Jim Moran Foundation.
The money will be used to create a school of entrepreneurship named after the nationally known car dealer, who founded JM Family Enterprises and whose family is known for their philanthropic efforts in South Florida.
“It’s a great day for Florida State and, I believe, for our students who will really get the benefit of this incredible gift down the road,” said FSU President John Thrasher, when he announced the gift Friday during a conference call with the university’s board of trustees. “The gift is truly transformational.”
The $100 million pledge includes $80 million over 20 years, or $4 million a year, and a $20 million charitable bequest, administrators said.
FSU officials said they believe it’s the largest private donation ever to a public university in Florida and that it matches the largest ever to any university in the state. The University of Miami in 2004 also received a $100 million private donation.
Jim Moran and his family have been donors to FSU for 20 years, already giving more than $9 million to the university, said Tom Jennings, vice president for university advancement.
The trustees unanimously voted to name the new school the “Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship.” The vote was required because the family’s gift deviates from the school’s naming policy that requires gifts to be paid out within seven years.
The entrepreneurial school is scheduled to open Aug. 8, 2018, which would have been Moran’s 100th birthday.
Moran died in 2007, but his wife, Jan, has continued the family’s philanthropic efforts. That work has had a particular impact on South Florida, where Moran moved in the 1960s.
The Deerfield Beach-based Jim Moran Foundation, founded in 2000, has invested more than $60 million — mostly in Broward, Palm Beach and Duval counties — in education, elder care, families and youth transitional living facilities, according to its website.
“Jim believed, ‘The future belongs to those who prepare for it,’ ” Jan Moran said in a statement. “With this gift, we forever secure the legacy of Jim Moran and his passion for supporting entrepreneurism, so that current and future generations will have the knowledge and skills they need to be successful.”
A portion of the family’s gift will continue to fund the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, which was founded 20 years ago within the FSU College of Business. The institute will remain as part of the college for five years, FSU Provost Sally McRorie said.
FSU’s entrepreneurship program is small and highly competitive. Only 41 students out of 200 applicants were accepted this year, said Michael Hartline, interim dean of the College of Business, where the program is currently housed.
Breaking it out into a separate school will allow it to blossom, Hartline said, adding “we expect within a year, we’ll have 100 [students].”
The school will operate independently of the business college, acting much like a college itself, but it will include interdisciplinary programs that interact with other colleges within FSU, administrators said.
It will be located in downtown Tallahassee near the Capitol and other local businesses. Thrasher said the university is still in negotiations for the property but he expects to make an announcement about the specific location in the coming weeks.