Office Depot's gift of $1 million boosts the Building for Business Campaign.

President Modesto Maidique and Office Depot Chairman and CEO Steve Odland
look at model of new building business complex for the college.

Office Depot recently donated $1 million to the College of Business Administration’s Building for Business Campaign. The donation is eligible for a $1 million match from the State of Florida, giving the college $2 million toward construction of its new $45 million, five-building complex on the Modesto A. Maidique Campus.

“We are very pleased to be able to form an important strategic relationship with the university, which is one of the pacesetters in international business education,” said Steve Odland, chairman and chief executive officer of Office Depot, in a ceremony at Modesto A. Maidique Campus on February 2nd. “As a global company with operations in 23 countries, we have a keen interest in enhancing academic programs that support this emphasis. Through the synergies we are establishing, Office Depot and the college will be drawn closer together—benefiting both of us in innumerable ways.”

From left, President Modesto Maidique, Monica Luechtefeld, executive vice president
for business development and information technology at Office Depot, Chapman Graduate
School of Business Dean José de la Torre, and Office Depot Chairman and
CEO Steve Odland hold Office Depot’s gift.

In recognition of the company’s support, the university will name the multi-story lobby and accompanying first-floor student commons space the Office Depot Student Center. The Office Depot Student Center will be a focal point in Commons Hall—one of the largest buildings and the only three-story structure in the interlocking buildings of the planned complex.

“The Office Depot Student Center will accommodate formal and informal gatherings of student organizations and other events, support informal education and teamwork, and foster pride among the student body,” said Alvah H. Chapman Graduate School of Business Dean José de la Torre.

To further strengthen the relationship between the company and the university, Monica Luechtefeld, executive vice president for business development and information technology at Office Depot, has been invited to join the colllge’s Dean’s Council—its principal advisory board. Also, the college will assign at least two teams of graduate students in international business to work directly on projects identified by Office Depot each year for at least five years, and annually will fund the Office Depot Summer Research Fellowship, which will support a short-term research project on an issue of mutual interest to Office Depot and an international business professor at the university.

Undergraduate student and accounting major Kenneth Rojas thanks Office Depot
on behalf of the College’s students.

In addition, the college will seek to engage Office Depot in other mutually beneficial initiatives over the next decade, such as internships at the company for its students and projects that will assist in the placement of its graduates in Office Depot’s international operations. Finally, the gift makes Office Depot eligible for membership and participation in the Torch Society—Gold Flame, which recognizes contributors of $1 million or more to the university.

“Given Office Depot’s opportunities for expansion outside the United States and the university’s considerable strength in the international arena, our cooperative projects will provide benefits to the company, the university and, most importantly, to the young men and women of South Florida and nationally who want to pursue productive careers in international business organizations,” de la Torre said.

At the invitation of Annabelle Rojas (MBA ’98), director of external relations and resource development in the college, whose office is coordinating the campaign, Kenneth Rojas, an accounting major who will graduate in the spring of 2006, represented the student body at the ceremony. In his speech, he expressed the gratitude of the 7,000 undergraduate students and 1,000 graduate students in the college who take classes at locations throughout the university.

“We need a home of our own,” he said. “The building is becoming a reality due to the support from the community and especially Office Depot. Your investment in our education is appreciated, and we can only hope that some of us will work for Office Depot so that you may experience the quality of our graduates.”

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