A $10 million gift from the Sentry Insurance Foundation will significantly expand opportunities for University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point business students, with an impact that will affect the entire region.
The donation to the School of Business and Economics is the largest one-time gift in Sentry Insurance Foundation’s history, and the largest the university has ever received. To recognize this generous support, the school will be named Sentry School of Business and Economics.
“This incredibly generous gift is transformative for UW-Stevens Point,” said Chancellor Thomas Gibson, who announced the gift today with Pete McPartland, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Sentry. “This is an investment in the future of the university, our students and our community. It is an affirmation of the confidence Sentry has in UW-Stevens Point.”
Sentry, long a corporate leader in Stevens Point, recognizes a strong university is paramount to developing a skilled workforce and talent pipeline for the future, McPartland said. This new initiative builds on the company’s successful partnership in developing UW-Stevens Point’s data analytics program. Sentry also created the Sentry IT Co-op downtown, employing UW-Stevens Point students.
“At Sentry, we firmly believe the presence of a strong university is critical, not only for our company but for the community,” McPartland said. “As a Fortune 650 company, headquartered in a small midwestern city, we’re able to thrive due in large part to UW-Stevens Point. The university is creating career-ready graduates and contributing to a community culture that allows us to recruit and retain well educated, talented employees. We’re proud and honored to be a part of this bold and transformative initiative to support the School of Business and Economics.”
The gift will help renovate an existing building, Collins Classroom Center, to create a state-of-the-art facility to house the Sentry School of Business and Economics. When renovations are complete, it will be renamed Sentry Hall as a visible signal of the partnership between Sentry and UW-Stevens Point and the commitment to address the talent development needs of the region.
In addition to updated facilities and technology, the gift will provide resources to enhance recruitment and business engagement activities. “As the Sentry School of Business and Economics, we will be able to significantly increase recruitment activities from a broader geographic area, particularly from diverse populations,” said Kevin Neuman, the school’s head.
Both UW-Stevens Point and Sentry are committed to enhancing diversity in the region’s workforce through this partnership.
Sentry School of Business and Economics will provide students with a cutting-edge business education that goes beyond classroom learning. It will include an entrepreneurship center and Center for Women’s Equity, Development and Leadership, serving both UW-Stevens Point students and the community. Experiential learning will occur through the Anderson Classroom to Career Center.
The School of Business and Economics has experienced significant growth in the past eight years with Sentry’s support and partnership. In 2016, Sentry provided a gift of $4 million to create a major in data analytics and endow two new faculty positions.
Also in 2016, the School of Business and Economics received accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In 2019, a master of business administration (MBA) in applied leadership and decision making was launched at all three UW-Stevens Point campuses.
A stand-alone business school will raise the visibility of the program with regional businesses and will elevate the profile of the school for prospective students and partners. With the additional resources and renovated facilities, university leaders hope to double enrollment. Nearly 900 students major in one of seven business program options now.
Renovation work could begin in 2026. This gift will fast-track the planning and design process that involves UW-Stevens Point, UW System and state officials.
“This gift is historic on several levels,” Gibson said. “It is our largest single donation. It will create more opportunities for our students, our faculty and our region. It will propel our business school to attract more students and more innovation. This will benefit all our degree programs and departments.”