Deloitte Foundation donates $5 million to College of Business

The College of Business to receive $5 million to create a new analytics center.

The College of Business to receive $5 million to create a new analytics center.

By Daily Illini Staff Report

The Deloitte Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, will be donating $5 million to the University’s College of Business for a new analytics center.

The University of Illinois-Deloitte Foundation Center for Business Analytics is the latest addition to the University campus, after the 2009 donation of the Deloitte Auditorium in the Business Instructional Facility.  

Chief Operating Officer of Deloitte Ron Sonenthal said he was approached by Jon Davis, the accountancy department head, about creating a center for analytics in Aug. 2014.

“For (Deloitte), we think analytics are increasingly the way of the future, and we need people in the market with those skills,” Sonenthal said. “The center is going to create, we hope, model curriculum for faculty to be used in institutions around the country, many of which we recruit at.”

The center will operate as a virtual space, Sonenthal said. The funding will go toward research, supporting professors and case competitions. The University analytics center will serve as a flagship in a series of future analytics projects they plan to spread to other universities.

“We wanted to make sure we were tied with a leader, and Illinois was a natural fit,” he said.

Deloitte, a company which provides business consultation to large brands, currently employs over 700 University alumni, Sonenthal said and the majority of the donors are University alumni.

Dean of College of Business Jeffrey R. Brown said nearly every major employer that recruits from the college asks students about their analytics skills. This center is just one of multiple ways the college plans to pivot its attention towards this area.

“At the same time that we are creating this center, we are also looking to make changes in our undergraduate curriculum in the business school, and other steps in order to ensure that our students are well-prepared to thrive in a world where big data is literally changing in the phase of business,” Brown said.

The College of Business said data analytics will be added to the curriculum of undergraduate students as well as its master’s programs. Brown said they will appoint a director for the center this year, who will hopefully be able to implement the center’s work this year. If not, the center will be up and running next fall.

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