A $15 million gift to Iona College from an alumnus will result in the launch of an institute focused on entrepreneurship and innovation.
The New Rochelle college announced the gift from James and Anne Marie Hynes of Greenwich on March 22. The $15 million will endow The Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
James Hynes, a 1969 graduate of Iona, has launched multiple businesses in the telecommunications industry. He is the co-founder and was the first CEO of Inteliquent Inc., a U.S.-based provider of interconnection services. He also was a founder and the first CEO of Colt Technology Services, one of the United Kingdom’s largest telecommunications businesses.
Hynes said he hopes the institute can help teach traits he notices are common among successful people, including the ability to solve problems, think independently and be adaptable.
“If we can build that into the curriculum of higher education, those kinds of skills can be applied to helping across the board, beyond just business and into law, medicine, education, government,” Hynes said. “And those kinds of skills can be taught in the form of entrepreneurialism — the ability to attack a problem and take it from a thought into a creation to success.”
Hynes put his family’s donation in the context of what he said is a larger debate going on in higher education about the high cost of college and the utility of a degree in the current economy. He envisions the institute will be able provide a creative way to prepare students for the challenges of sustaining a successful career.
“If we can build that into an Iona degree to a greater extent,” Hynes said, “I think it will make our degree worth more to the kids who get it, it will make them more effective and better employees, or entrepreneurs, or whatever they choose to do with their life.”
Hynes has served as chairman of Iona College’s Board of Trustees since 2008. The school’s Hynes Athletics Center, a multi-purpose sports facility, is also named for him. Anne Marie Hynes holds a law degree from Pace University School of Law, which was to the Elisabeth Haub School of Law. She most recently worked as a pro-bono attorney for the Pace Women’s Justice Center, which works with victims of domestic abuse. The donation makes the Hynes family the college’s leading lifetime donors, according to Iona.
The institute will occupy space already on the campus, with the donation used primarily to fund programs and faculty. The school said it is searching now for a founding director for the institute.
The Hynes Institute will be co-sponsored by the college’s School of Business and its School of Arts & Science. While the institute expects to offer a minor course of study in entrepreneurship next fall, the school is exploring additional degree options within the institute, such as a major and concentration program, as well as a master’s program within the entrepreneurship and innovation institute, according to Glenn Horine, director of the college’s Center For Sports, Entertainment, and Media Business and part of the planning team for the Hynes Institute.
Horine said the institute would also include co-curricular components such as a student entrepreneurship club, pitch competitions, a mentoring program involving high school students and an incubator and accelerator space.
“With the curricular side, the co-curricular side and the incubator and accelerator, as well being tied to the community, which is important to us, those are really the three key areas about this announcement and why we think it can be transformational for our school and for our students,” Horine said.
The donation comes during Iona’s latest fundraising initiative, which has a $150 million goal and is called the “Iona Forever” campaign. As part of the initiative, Iona is planning to build a new 63,000-square-foot facility for its School of Business following the $17.5 million donation from trustee Robert V. LaPenta which the school announced in October.