Leeds’ de Soto Capital Markets Program draws additional $3.7 million in gifts

December 15, 2016

The Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder today announced $3.7 million in new gifts to support Leeds’ Hernando de Soto Capital Markets Program. The gifts come from individuals and private foundations and will fund the hiring of both tenure- and nontenure-track faculty in the de Soto Capital Markets Program. The donors include El Pomar Foundation of Colorado Springs, the Charles Koch Foundation and long-time CU Boulder supporters George Solich, through his foundation The Solich Fund, and Buz and Sherri Koelbel. Both George Solich and Buz Koelbel are Leeds alumni.  

The gifts follow a prior commitment to the de Soto Program from CU Boulder alumni William and Jane Reynolds, who funded an initial endowment of just over $2 million and an additional $1.2 million over three years in operating funds. To date, the program has garnered over $6.9 million in support.

The de Soto Capital Markets Program explores property rights, social responsibility and ethics, entrepreneurship, trade and the rule of law and their influences on global markets both in advanced and emerging economies, including the work of Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto.

The cornerstone of the de Soto Capital Markets Program is the newly redesigned World of Business course for Leeds freshmen that was launched in the fall of 2016. A multidisciplinary group of faculty and instructors developed the course as part of a school initiative to enhance the overall undergraduate curriculum. The faculty members represented multiple disciplines including: ethics and social responsibility; management and entrepreneurship; and finance. The course was redesigned to create immersion in business fundamentals to meet the needs of Leeds students in the 21st century.

“The Leeds educational approach has always been to create an atmosphere where varied intellectual concepts – along with their merits and implications – are debated robustly,” said Professor Chris Leach, who led the development of both the new business core and the World of Business curriculum.

Leach is a finance professor and Deming Professor of Entrepreneurship at Leeds.

“The new World of Business course combines the best of experiential learning with intellectual thought leadership,” Leach said. “It truly engages students in discussion about different perspectives and hones their critical thinking skills and approach to problem solving—outcomes that business leaders tell us they need from our students.”

The new course retains its ethics foundation as developed by the Center for Education on Social Responsibility from the previous curriculum, while intensifying student exposure to the foundational economic and philosophical ideas that affect the practice of business. The course examines the ways businesses have contributed to societies around the world, and also what relationship innovation, entrepreneurship, property rights and free markets have in societal well-being.

“I am delighted that our students will be the beneficiaries of this exchange of ideas,” said CU Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. “This course will help prepare them to work in and contribute to complex social, political and economic environments across the world. I am gratified that this kind of innovative program is attracting the support of donors.”

The World of Business has successfully been offered to the entire fall 2016 freshman class and has its first Scholar in Residence and Faculty Director, Eric C. Alston, who is supporting courses in the de Soto program this semester.

Sharon Matusik, incoming interim dean and long-term Management and Entrepreneurship professor, said the de Soto program is the result of a multi-year, faculty-driven effort to create an original curriculum that provides life-long learning skills.

“This kind of learning experience positions Leeds students to thrive in a complex 21st century world,” Matusik said.