Powerful partnership

Wright State University receives a $3.6 million gift from Reynolds and Reynolds to create an Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans and new scholarships for business students

A $3.6 million gift from the Reynolds and Reynolds Company and its foundation will launch an Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans at Wright State University and create new scholarships for business students.

Details of the gift were announced at an event on Thursday, Oct. 27, at the ReyRey Café in Wright State University’s Rike Hall.

“This is one of the largest gifts in the history of Wright State University,” said Wright State President Sue Edwards, Ph.D. “The Reynolds and Reynolds Company has been a valued corporate partner from Wright State’s earliest days as an institution of higher education. We are incredibly grateful for their continued support and look forward to working with them as we launch the Reynolds and Reynolds Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans at Wright State University and the Reynolds Scholars program in the Raj Soin College of Business.”

The Reynolds and Reynolds Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) will further expand the collaboration between Reynolds and Wright State while supporting the success of military veterans who are aspiring entrepreneurs.

The EBV at Wright State will be part of a larger consortium of higher education institutions, initiated by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. The consortium is comprised of universities across the U.S., including Texas A&M, UCLA, the University of Connecticut, Louisiana State University, Florida State University, Saint Joseph’s University and the University of Missouri.

Post-9/11 veterans with honorable discharge are eligible to apply for the program. There is no requirement that applicants be enrolled as a student.

From left: Seth Gordon, director of Wright State’s Veteran and Military Center; Provost Amy Thompson; accountancy major Kayla O’Daniel; Thomas Traynor, Raj Soin College of Business dean; Kasi Edwards ’96, senior vice president for marketing at The Reynolds and Reynolds Company; President Sue Edwards; Bill Bigham, interim vice president for advancement; Kendall Goodrich, chair of marketing. (Video by Kris Sproles; photos by Erin Pence)

Veterans admitted to the EBV will begin their educational journey with a 30-day online course on entrepreneurship fundamentals. Students will then participate in an eight-day residential experience at Wright State.

The full program is taught by entrepreneurs, professionals and faculty in Wright State University’s Raj Soin College of Business who support small business development.

The residential experience — including travel, food, accommodations, curriculum, resources and entertainment — is provided at no cost to the veteran. Upon completion of the residency, 12 months of ongoing support, focused on small business creation and growth, is provided to graduates of the program. Wright State entrepreneurship students will also support and benefit from interactions with the veteran entrepreneurs.

A $3 million gift from Reynolds and Reynolds will create an endowment to permanently underwrite the costs of the EBV.

“The service men and women that defended our right to life, liberty and happiness must not themselves be obstructed from achieving their own American dream,” said Chris Walsh, president of Reynolds. “We are honored by the sacrifices they have made, and this is one way we thank them for their service — by helping ensure there is a path toward a fruitful future for them when their service ends.”

In addition to the $3 million commitment to the EBV, The Reynolds and Reynolds Company Foundation has pledged $600,000 over the next three years for scholarships for Wright State business students.

Students selected for the Reynolds and Reynolds Business Scholarship will receive an annual scholarship of $5,000 that is renewable for each year of their undergraduate education at Wright State.

“The foundation wants to recognize students that are investing in their own education,” said David Shimek, senior vice president of corporate development. “These scholarships are meant to give a boost to excellent business or STEM students that have a financial need.”

Kayla O’Daniel, a senior accountancy major, talked about the impact scholarships have had on her life as a Wright State student.

“These two gifts promise to expand the impact of Reynolds and Reynolds on Wright State’s business students and on military veterans by inspiring entrepreneurial endeavors that form the basis for economic growth,” said Thomas Traynor, Ph.D., dean of the Raj Soin College of Business. “They also reaffirm and widen the commitment that Reynolds and Wright State have to the Greater Dayton region and its economy.”

Traynor said that Reynolds has long been a supporter of scholarships for Wright State students, not only in the Raj Soin College of Business but in Wright State University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science and at the Wright State University Lake Campus in Celina. Reynolds also played an integral role in establishing the ReyRey Café in Rike Hall, a student-operated café in the Raj Soin College of Business.

Reynolds also employs many Wright State graduates at its corporate headquarters in Dayton.

“The Reynolds and Reynolds Company has been a wonderful partner to Wright State University for many years. They have provided life-changing scholarships to students across many majors, and their support of business programming in the student-operated ReyRey Café in Rike Hall has been invaluable,” said Traynor. “We are proud that Wright State and the Raj Soin College of Business have produced many talented graduates over the years to help support Reynolds’ workforce needs.”

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