Entrepreneurship students celebrated a $5 million gift from Collat alumnus J. Frank Barefield (center) at an October 10th reception.

The newly named J. Frank Barefield, Jr. Entrepreneurship Program in the Collat School of Business is set to enter the national scene.

The program received $5 million from UAB MBA alumnus Barefield as part of a $10 million gift to the university — the largest gift opens a new website given to UAB from an alumnus.

“This gift is going to allow us to take what we already have and really showcase it out there. I think our curriculum is the finest in the country, I really do, “said Patrick Murphy, Ph.D. opens a new website, Goodrich Endowed Chair for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and director of the Barefield Entrepreneurship Program. “We were very intentional when we designed this curriculum, but now we’re going to be able to promote on a larger level and attract folks to come and participate in it and be a part of it.”

The funds will be spent on three main categories: scholarships for students, programming, and faculty recruitment.

Right now, the program is hiring for a junior-level tenure track position with a connected endowment. Next year, the program hiring will begin hiring for the J. Frank Barefield, Jr. Endowed Professorship in Entrepreneurship.

“That makes us more competitive in the market,” Murphy said. “That’s great because we value teaching very highly. Every one of the classes that we offer needs to be inspirational, very high impact and intense, and students need to be attracted to come into them.”

Entrepreneurship events and student activities will also get a boost from the gift.

“We will have professional-grade events with catering, event planning all around them so that they feel world-class,” Murphy said. “We’ll be able to do that easily because of this gift. We will be able to offer an uncommon level of access to students who wouldn’t be here without that kind of support.”

Murphy calls Barefield’s impact on local entrepreneurship inspiring. Barefield began his career working in investment banking by day while working on an MBA from UAB by night. In 1984 he formed the precursor to Abbey Residential with UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine’s namesake. He also has served as chairman of Crime Stoppers of Metro Birmingham for the past decade.

“For him to see what we’re doing and be willing to give that sort of a gift is very inspiring to us because it legitimizes what we’ve been doing,” Murphy said. “He cares about Alabama; he cares about the country; he cares about entrepreneurship.”

Barefield said that he views being able to give back to his alma mater and having his name on the entrepreneurship program as an accomplishment and a way to give back to the business world.

“Our economy and our standard of living depend upon business — both existing businesses and the creation of new businesses, which create opportunities for everyone to work and make a better and more rewarding life for their families,” Barefield said. “The more people can give to educational institutions to expand the new business horizon, the better.”

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