Menard family gift supports NDSU Challey Institute speaker series

Menard family gift supports NDSU Challey Institute speaker series


NDSU’s Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth will bring to campus major thought leader Arthur C. Brooks to help launch the Menard Family Distinguished Speakers Series. Brooks, professor of practice and public leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School and Arthur C. Patterson faculty fellow at the Harvard Business School, will address students virtually in November

“Renowned speakers, like Arthur Brooks, not only offer their experiences and years of knowledge but also help foster a curiosity that drives students to pursue more and build an innovative culture,” said Lee Vetsch, graduate student in agribusiness and applied economics.

The Menard Family Distinguished Speaker Series is made possible thanks to the family’s $5.5 million gift to the Challey Institute at NDSU. The investment will support a directorship, several new professorships, visiting scholars programs, and graduate and undergraduate fellowships that will allow NDSU students to gain an appreciation for the larger global environment within which business and innovation occur.

“Students, faculty and the community will be able to engage and interact with world-class experts in these areas, generating additional ideas, thought and research that will further our mission,” said John Bitzan, Menard Family Director of the Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth.

The Menard family’s gift, in combination with gifts from other donors to the Challey Institute, will enable faculty and students to tackle big questions while exploring ways to improve the human condition and create economic opportunity.

“Our hope is to empower as many people as possible to have the opportunity our family did to use their innate abilities to learn, contribute and succeed,” the Menard family said. “By providing opportunities that help people realize their potential, we drive progress because the more people who are creating value for society, the stronger we all become — so it’s a win-win all around.”

John Menard Jr. is the founder and owner of Menards, the national home improvement chain. Menards’ headquarters is in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Menards has 325 stores and 41 manufacturing facilities located in 14 Midwestern states. In North Dakota alone, Menards has seven stores and two manufacturing facilities.

“Transformational philanthropic support, like the Menard family has provided the Challey Institute, allows NDSU to serve its citizens at a scope never before possible,” NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani said. “The investment also insulates the work of faculty from the vagaries of the state’s economy and positions them to produce outcomes changing the future of our state, nation and world.”

Established in 2019 with a gift from Sheila and Robert Challey, the Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth aims to advance understanding in the areas of innovation, trade, institutions and to identify policies and solutions that enhance economic growth and opportunity. While the institute is housed in the College of Business, funding supports a wide range of multidisciplinary faculty from across eight colleges at NDSU.

“It is exciting to have the Menard family recognize and support the game-changing endeavor of the Challey Institute,” Robert Challey said. “Sheila and I are grateful to have this opportunity to support NDSU and the issues we care about in the world.”

Brooks is the author of 11 books, including national bestsellers, “Love Your Enemies,” “The Conservative Heart” and “The Road to Freedom.” He is also a columnist for the Washington Post; host of the popular podcast, “The Arthur Brooks Show;” and subject of the 2019 documentary film, “The Pursuit,” now available on Netflix.

The Challeys are co-chairs of In Our Hands: The Campaign for North Dakota State University, a $400-million fundraising effort to lift up all of NDSU, its students, the region, and beyond. As of the end of June 2020, the campaign has raised more than $366 million.

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