School of Journalism receives $26.1 million donation to create the Novak Leadership Institute

The money was given by 1974 MU graduate David Novak, co-founder and former CEO of Yum! Brands.

David Novak Courtesy of MU News Bureau

MU graduate David Novak, co-founder and former CEO of Yum! Brands, donated $21.6 million to the School of Journalism to create the Novak Leadership Institute.

MU formally announced the donation on Friday. This will be the “world’s first institute for strategic communication-based leadership education,” according to the event program. The institute includes both graduate and undergraduate courses, online programs and seminars and will be housed in Lee Hills Hall.

Novak said the NLI is a program that provides students with educational benefits that they would not receive elsewhere. He said students will have a leg up when entering the workforce after taking these classes.

“We can give the people that come to this university an advantage that no other university provides,” Novak said. “University of Missouri students that go to the Novak leadership program are going to walk out better prepared to enter the workplace to drive more success and have greater careers than any other students in America.”

David Kurpius, dean of the School of Journalism, spoke at the gift announcement ceremony. He said the NLI will help students in any discipline build skills that they can immediately use in their professional field.

“We are already training leaders in media but also in other parts of corporate America at a very high level,” Kurpius said. “This is an opportunity to take a good model and provide great benefits to our students so that they start out with much higher skills as they go out into the workforce.”

Three pilot classes have already been created based on Novak’s book “Taking People with You.”

Graduate student Mary Jane Rogers took one of these pilot classes and said the institute will help her and many other students understand the ideals of leadership.

“Since I'm graduating, I hope to use it for networking,” Rogers said. “The skills that I learned in the classroom, I'm going to be taking with me for the rest of my life. For future students, I'm really excited for them because it's going to change the way that we look at leadership and how we become leaders.”

Chancellor Alexander Cartwright made the formal announcement of the gift during the ceremony. He said MU is where future leaders should be to advance themselves even further.

“If you want to teach, study, or conduct research on leadership, you need to come to Mizzou,” Cartwright said.

Professor Margaret Duffy, executive director of the Novak Leadership Institute, worked with Novak to create the NLI. She said the leaders trained at the institute will have a worldwide impact.

“Together, the Novak Leadership Institute, the Missouri School of Journalism, the University of Missouri and the state of Missouri will make the world a better place by creating ethical, courageous and effective leaders, and we are going to have fun doing it,” Duffy said.

Edited by Olivia Garrett | ogarrett@themaneater.com

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