Bloomington, Ind.—Marion, Ind., native's donation supports the school's undergraduate building project
Indiana University's Kelley School of Business announced Friday that James R. Hodge, an alumnus, a native of Marion, Ind., and president of Permal Asset Management Inc. in New York, has donated $15 million for its undergraduate building renovation and expansion project.
In 2009, IU trustees approved the architectural design of an expansion and renovation of the 140,000-square-foot original building at 1309 E. 10th St. Plans call for a two-phase project that will dramatically transform the school's learning environment for undergraduate students. The combined cost for the new addition and the renovation of existing facilities is estimated to be $60 million. Fundraising continues to secure the balance of the resources needed.
A graduate of Marion High School, Hodge earned a bachelor's degree with highest distinction in business in 1974 and went on to become president of Permal Asset Management Inc., one of the oldest and largest alternative asset management firms in the world. He also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and is a CPA in the state of New Jersey.
He serves on the board of directors of the IU Foundation and on the Kelley School of Business Dean's Council. A lifetime member of the IU Alumni Association, he also is a member of the IU Foundation President's Circle and 1820 Society.
Hodge calls Bloomington "an incredibly friendly place." At IU, he lived at a Spanish-language dorm located within Ashton Residence Center, before joining the Sigma Pi fraternity. He counts among his favorite faculty members John Mee and Larry Rankin. Leslie L. Waters was his faculty adviser.
"I think that everyone wants to give back," Hodge simply said. "I generally think that whatever's gone right for me in my career was started the day I walked into Waters' office. In Bloomington, the sun came out for me."
A focus of the building project will be to create spaces that will enable Kelley faculty to provide students with more of a technology-mediated experience that will literally bring the world to Bloomington. Construction is expected to begin next spring with the building's expansion, followed by renovation of the existing building -- one floor at a time. Both phases of the project are expected to be completed within five years.
"This extremely generous gift from James Hodge and his family will allow the Kelley School of Business and its faculty to better serve the more than 4,000 IU students enrolled in its nationally respected undergraduate business program," said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. "As a result of this transformational gift, we will be able to improve upon what already is an innovative environment for experiential learning that prepares students for careers in business in Indiana, across the country and worldwide."
"We have always held Jim up as a model Kelley alumnus. His professional accomplishments are extraordinary, and he is a gentleman in every sense of the word," said Dan Smith, dean of the Kelley School. "Jim has long been an integral part of the school. He serves on our Dean's Council, is a frequent guest speaker in our classes and has also funded an endowed chair.
"The undergraduate building project is far more than brick and mortar. It will transform the way in which we approach business education and in the process, fundamentally improve the lives of countless students for years to come. And none of this would have been possible were it not for Jim's incredible generosity," Smith added.
To this day, Hodge said that he reflects back on what he learned at IU and the Kelley School and applies it in his business decision-making. For example, he said he will never forget what he learned at his very first meeting with his adviser, Leslie Waters.
"The previous student, who was graduating shortly, had offered him a small parting gift -- a pen and pencil set," Hodge said. "Waters told me he could not accept the gift; it was not allowed by university policy. I think a number of people from my financial services world would have benefited from this early lesson, with some paying heavy career prices for accepting small gifts like tickets to sporting events."
The existing undergraduate building originally was completed in 1966 at a cost of $5.5 million. In 1982, construction to expand the building and to build an adjacent home for the School of Public and Environmental Affairs was completed at a cost of $18.9 million. Included in the latter project was a combined library for the two schools, which today is the Business/SPEA Information Commons.
Additional classroom space is needed at Kelley. Current classrooms are 100 percent booked. The school -- which is increasingly recognized as one of the most highly regarded business schools in the world -- routinely must turn away 500 to 600 very capable students annually due to capacity limitations. The project will add more than 20 new classrooms, which will be designed for the school's experiential global team-based learning concept.
Hodge said he believes the renovation and expansion of the undergraduate building are essential to the Kelley School's future ability to serve the needs of its students. "The building dates back to the 1960s and is showing its age. It needs to be upgraded to the standards required today," he said.
He hopes that his decision to go public about his gift will encourage even more Kelley alumni to support the building project.