Allen W. and Carol M. Schmidthorst College of Business logo

BGSU announces first named college, Allen W. and Carol M. Schmidthorst College of Business

Historic $15 million dollar gift will support academic programming

Bowling Green State University has announced the single largest academic gift in the University’s nearly 110-year history and the first named college at BGSU.

Following a special meeting of the Board of Trustees on July 31, BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers announced the historic and transformational $15 million gift from Ohio entrepreneur Allen Schmidthorst, and his wife, Carol, establishing the Allen W. and Carol M. Schmidthorst College of Business.

“It is an absolute honor to name Bowling Green State University’s business college for Al and Carol Schmidthorst in recognition of their extraordinary impact,” said President Rogers. “Business education has always been a hallmark of the university, and Al and Carol’s philanthropic support elevates our international business education reputation.”

A Transformational Opportunity

The Schmidthorsts’ $15 million gift to Bowling Green State University will provide endowed and current-use resources to educate and directly empower current and future students to become the next generation of business and community leaders.

Under the leadership of the Provost, this gift will support the academic programming in the Schmidthorst College of Business, enhancing current programs and advancing new and innovative programs in the future.

With an emphasis and focus on students, the gift will also be used to fund scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students seeking a business degree, and the retention of students demonstrating a high financial need.

In addition, the gift will provide endowment for professorships and academic program leaders, supporting recruitment and retention efforts to attract outstanding faculty in key disciplines and increase national recognition for BGSU’s business education programs.

“The impact of this gift from Al and Carol Schmidthorst cannot be understated,” said Dr. Joe B. Whitehead Jr., Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs. “It shapes the future of the academic programs offered by the University, and will provide enhanced opportunities for our students and faculty as they contribute business expertise for the community at large.”

BGSU’s business school is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a recognition it has held since 1954, and offers 14 undergraduate business specializations and several graduate degree programs.

Redefining Student Success

The Schmidthorst gift comes just weeks before the official opening of the Robert W. and Patricia A. Maurer Center, the new state-of-the-art facility that will be home to the Schmidthorst College of Business.

The Maurer Center connects the iconic Hanna Hall with a 50,000-square-foot addition and celebrates the University’s history while providing one of the most modern and innovative learning spaces in the nation.

Featuring an open design concept, the Maurer Center will encourage active collaboration for future business leaders and entrepreneurs.

Together with the opening of the Maurer Center, the Schmidthorst College of Business will support the University’s strategic plan, which prioritizes redefining student success through innovative, experiential learning opportunities. 

“This is a truly historic moment for business education at BGSU,” Rogers said. “The Schmidthorst gift allows us to fully leverage this magnificent facility, made possible through the generosity of Bob and Pat Maurer, and other significant donors. BGSU is committed to supporting each student in their business pursuits.” 

BGSU broke ground on the Maurer Center in fall 2018 and is scheduled to open at the start of the fall semester.

Ohio Entrepreneur Driving Public Good 

Ohio native Allen Schmidthorst grew up working alongside his grandfather at his family’s farm in the Cincinnati area. Destined for business, Schmidthorst got his first taste of entrepreneurial success as a 10-year-old selling produce in front of his childhood home.

Schmidthorst applied the lessons learned on the farm throughout his career and is known for his hard work and determination.

“Al has achieved business success through persistent and diligent work ethic, focus and a great deal of grit,” Rogers said. “He has been driving economic vitality in the state for decades, and we are deeply appreciative that he is committed to investing in the future of Ohio through BGSU, a public university for the public good.”

Schmidthorst attended BGSU in the mid-1950s before starting his business career. He and his wife, Carol, own AWS Properties, a business that provides comprehensive services for office, retail and leisure properties.

A serial entrepreneur with holdings in hotels, restaurants and real estate management, Allen Schmidthorst is respected as a leader in the hotel and hospitality industry.

The longtime residents of Lima, Ohio, anchored their businesses in the state and expanded throughout the Midwest.  

“An important part of creating public good is ensuring our communities are strong economically,” Rogers said. “A strong economy allows us to thrive – from our social well-being, to our health and educational stability. When you think about the importance of business, you realize how critical it is to all of us that we graduate students who are committed to being ethical, focused business leaders who will start businesses and lead companies that create new jobs. This gift is an investment in the future of not only BGSU, not only Ohio, but the nation and the world.”

As ardent supporters of the University, the Schmidthorsts provided naming gifts for the Schmidthorst Pavilion and Schmidthorst Heritage Hall featuring the Cochrane Cunningham Athletic Archives, both located at the Stroh Center. They have also supported the WBGU-TV Public Broadcasting Fund, the Falcon Club Scholarship and Success Fund, the BRAVO! Scholarship for the Arts Fund, the Student-Athlete Academic Support Services Fund, the Men’s Basketball Enhancement Fund, the Men’s Golf Enhancement Fund and the Stadium Fund. In recognition of their contributions, they are members of The Presidents Club, the Falcon Club and Leadership Circle.

Allen Schmidthorst received an honorary doctorate of business administration from BGSU in 2017.

“It is an honor to have the continued support of Al and Carol Schmidthorst,” said Betty Montgomery, chair of the BGSU Board of Trustees. “Their generosity and confidence in BGSU’s mission has consistently propelled the institution to reach new levels of excellence. Their support transforms the lives of our students for generations to come.”

Changing Lives for the World

As students and universities face a future with new and evolving challenges, from navigating a global pandemic to economic uncertainty and social change, the timing of the Schmidthorsts' gift is especially significant. 

BGSU launched its Changing Lives for the World campaign in July 2014 with a goal of raising $200 million in private funds by the end of 2020. The Schmidthorsts’ $15 million gift elevates the University’s total commitments above that goal, six months ahead of schedule.

“The Changing Lives for the World campaign provides foundational support for BGSU to continue its history of excellence, access and affordability,” said Pamela J. Conlin, vice president for University Advancement and president and CEO of the BGSU Foundation, Inc. “Private contributions play a critical role in supporting students and their education. This gift is an exclamation point on the generosity and optimism the Schmidthorsts have in the future of BGSU, and will energize and inspire others to participate and invest in our historic campaign.”

“Education is the great leveler of society,” said Rogers. “It changes lives. This gift is a strong vote of confidence in all that Bowling Green State University stands for today, and will become tomorrow.

“When students and faculty come to the Schmidthorst College of Business, it is our hope that they will be thinking of Al and Carol,” Rogers said. “The Schmidthorst name will carry a legacy of hard work and generosity. They created businesses, gave back to their communities, cared deeply for their families and paid it forward by investing in the future of BGSU in an unprecedented way.”