A $5 million gift from NC State University alumnus Andy Albright and his wife, Jane, will bolster both the NC State Entrepreneurship Initiative and the General H. Hugh Shelton Leadership Center, Chancellor Randy Woodson announced.
Andy, a 1986 graduate of the College of Textiles, said he’s excited to invest in NC State students.
“These kids have big hearts, and they want to change America. They want to do the right thing. They just need the opportunity,” he said. “There are a ton of people supporting these programs. I understand I’m just a tiny cog, but I want to see more and more of those kids traveling the world, making a difference and going for it.”
“These kids have big hearts, and they want to change America. They want to do the right thing. They just need the opportunity.”
— Andy Albright
In honor of this extraordinary commitment, Innovation Hall — which opened on Centennial Campus in 2014 — will now be known as Andy and Jane Albright Innovation Hall.
“We are so grateful for the Albrights’ generosity, which will truly help us strengthen and expand a number of programs on our campus,” Woodson said. “The Albright Entrepreneurs Village and the Shelton Leadership Center provide so many opportunities for our students to gain real-world experience building businesses and learning to be bold, values-based leaders. These are the innovators who will lead our state and nation in the decades to come.”
One component of the Albrights’ gift is an endowment for the Albright Entrepreneurs Village, a Living and Learning Village the Burlington, North Carolina, couple previously established. NC State’s Living and Learning Villages are interest-based communities that engage students inside and outside the classroom.
“All the students across campus who have interest in entrepreneurship can live in the village, work in the Entrepreneurship Initiative Garage to develop their ideas and start businesses,” said Tom Miller, senior vice provost for academic outreach and entrepreneurship and executive director of NC State Entrepreneurship Initiative. “The endowment of the Entrepreneurs Village will ensure that culture continues to build and go on forever, and we’re quite excited about that.”
Miller said the Albrights are “building a bridge” between the Entrepreneurship Initiative and the Shelton Leadership Center.
“We want to equip students with a strong entrepreneurial mindset and values-based leadership skills,” he said. “We want to produce leaders who will build new businesses with strong values and ethics.”
The Albrights are also creating the Shelton-Albright Entrepreneurial Leadership Youth Program, which will be administered jointly through the Entrepreneurship Initiative and the Shelton Leadership Center. The program will be aimed at high school students in North Carolina’s rural counties who have an interest in entrepreneurship.
Barbara Mulkey, director of the Shelton Leadership Center, said the Albrights’ support will take the center to the next level.
“We are really at a point where we’re ready to take the next step. We have created curriculum. We have had successful programming, and we have impacted many. This is going to enable us to impact many, many more,” she said. “This new program in entrepreneurial leadership will allow us to reach out and impact students in rural counties across the state. We could never do that without this gift.”
Support from the Albrights will allow the Shelton Leadership Center to move from its current offices in the McKimmon Center to Valley Hall on Centennial Campus. The move will give the center additional space to conduct workshops and courses.
“It’s our intention to impact more students across the university, and for that we’ve got to be in a location that’s more accessible to the students. This will also enable us to spread out and create the kind of space we need to better serve NC State students going forward,” Mulkey said. “Philanthropy is critically important. I don’t see the center being able to exist without it.”
Just last month, NC State launched the public phase of the Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign, the most ambitious fundraising effort in university history. NC State’s alumni and friends have already committed more than $1 billion toward a goal of $1.6 billion by Dec. 31, 2021. Woodson noted the Albrights helped push the university past the $1 billion mark.
The Albrights’ gift supports all five of the Campaign’s priorities — leadership, experience, purpose, places and opportunity.
Andy, who serves on the Entrepreneurship Initiative Advisory Board, said he wants to lead by example and encourages others to support the university.
“I’m a businessman. I look for high ROI and fertile soil. I look for a place to invest in that’s going to grow,” he said. “Outside of my own business, NC State — particularly with the leadership the university has now — offers the highest ROI. These young people are our future.”
Will Duke, a sophomore studying computer science, found out about the Entrepreneurship Initiative during a visit to NC State while he was still in high school. Now an NC State student and aspiring entrepreneur, he takes full advantage of the initiative and the Albright Entrepreneurs Village.
He appreciates the impact of philanthropy from the Albrights and other friends and alumni of NC State.
“Many of the incredible opportunities that I’ve had the fortunate chance of participating in have only been possible because of donors,” Duke said. “So many opportunities — a lot of the things in the garage, trips we take, people we bring in to speak to us — they simply wouldn’t be possible without the donors.”