Family of Cisco CEO gives $1 million to encourage entrepreneurship

John ChambersThe family of John and Elaine Chambers has given Wake Forest University $1 million to encourage student entrepreneurs at the university.

John Chambers is the president and chief executive officer of Cisco Systems, the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet. Chambers delivered the commencement address and received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Wake Forest in May 2000, the same year his daughter, Lindsay, graduated from the university with a bachelor of arts degree.

The family’s gift was granted to the university through the Chambers Family Charitable Trust at the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund. The donation will create the Chambers Family Endowment Fund for Entrepreneurship, which will be used to finance projects and courses at the university that support entrepreneurship using the Internet or electronic commerce. The endowed fund will be available to university students on the Reynolda and Bowman Gray campuses.

University officials expect the first grants from the fund to be awarded next spring.

“This gift is an affirmation of our philosophy of putting technology in the hands
of our students,” said Wake Forest President Thomas K. Hearn Jr. “The energy created in our students by this gift will spill over into our community as we continue to build the information technology and biotechnology sectors of our local economy.”

Wake Forest, consistently ranked as one of America’s “most wired” universities, has received international recognition for its use of technology in education. The university encourages student entrepreneurs at all levels – graduate and undergraduate – and integrates their ideas and skills in the local community through several university initiatives.

The Chambers family cited the following university programs as models for the type of projects they hope their gift will support:

  • The Center for Undergraduate Entrepreneurship at the Calloway School of Business and Accountancy, under development. The center will provide an educational environment for undergraduate liberal arts and business students in which they develop entrepreneurial ventures and personal venturing skills. The center will offer students physical space needed to develop their ideas, and connect them with the necessary mentoring resources from the Calloway School faculty and local business community to nurture them.
  • The Knowledge2Work program, developed by Wake Forest’s Information System’s department in 2000. Knowledge2Work is a student-run information technology solutions organization that offers services like Web page design, corporate intranets and IT consulting to local businesses.
  • The Angell Center for Entrepreneurship at the Babcock Graduate School of Management, established in 1999. Programs offered by the center include the Family Business Center, a membership organization for family and closely held businesses; the Babcock Demon Incubator, which provides student support services to local startup companies; summer entrepreneurial internships for Babcock students; a national entrepreneurial case-writing competition; and Fast- Track Tech, a program that helps individuals—including students— launch new technology-based ventures.

“Wake Forest has demonstrated that it is not only important to teach people how to learn but also to expand their ideas and communications through today’s networked world,” said Chambers. “Our goal for this fund is to provide the education, faculty support and encouragement that entrepreneurially minded students need to put their ideas to work while they are still in school.”

Categories: Recognition, School of Business, University Announcement