One of Utah’s most innovative and influential entrepreneurs has made a major investment to engage students at the David Eccles School of Business in societal change at the regional and global level.

A $13 million gift from James Lee Sorenson will be used to create the James Lee Sorenson Center for Global Impact Investing (SGII Center). The SGII Center will engage students and faculty at the University of Utah and surrounding universities. Its mission is to enact high-impact, sustainable change across the world through direct investment, innovative research and curriculum development.

The new Sorenson Center will address a broad range of crucial societal issues such as healthcare, education, housing, agriculture, green energy and entrepreneurial livelihood training and development. The center will cast a wide geographic net from the U.S. to India, as well as other areas of Southeast Asia. Other regions of significant economic need and opportunity will include China, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Kenya, Cambodia and Brazil.

Through the James Lee Sorenson Center, both undergraduate and graduate students will have access to a tremendous range of social impact opportunities, including a full range of internships. The center will also house a new minor in Impact Investing, which teaches and trains students in how to identify and take advantage of opportunities for transformative investment and social entrepreneurship.

On the research side, the Sorenson Center will foster a greater understanding of how free enterprise can be employed to create large-scale societal change. Faculty will work with students to develop practical, innovative curriculum. The center will further work for the benefit of humanity by publishing reports and studies to share the knowledge it develops with a global audience.

The new James Lee Sorenson Center is directly in the center of the Eccles School of Business, and builds upon the school’s legacy of innovation and social impact.

In September 2010, the Eccles School created the University Impact Fund, the first independent, student-run venture capital/ private equity fund dedicated to global-focused impact investing. The University Impact Fund, run by Lewis Hower, will merge all of its resources and activities into the SGII Center.

One of the most significant ongoing benefits for students and faculty at the Eccles School will be the active engagement of James Lee Sorenson, one of the nation’s great transformative business leaders. He has built highly successful companies in disparate industries—from technology and life sciences to real estate and private equity investment. Sorenson helped develop several entirely new industry categories, including digital compression software at Sorenson Media that helped actualize the online video industry; and video relay services at Sorenson Communications that created entirely new opportunities for many thousands of deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

Learn more about the Sorenson Center for Global Impact Investing.

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