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Message from Samuel Zell

Chairman, Equity Group Investments

When we started the Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute For Entrepreneurial Studies 14 years ago, my goal was to build the best entrepreneurial program in the country. The fact that we have achieved that goal is tremendous.

The Institute's top ranking by the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur Magazine is a testament to the University of Michigan – from its ability to establish and grow a pioneering program with the support of its faculty to its success in drawing highly talented students. An important driver behind the Institute's success and longevity is the assemblage of outstanding individuals on the Zell Lurie Institute Advisory Board who contribute their time, expertise and sponsorship. They are an extraordinary resource, and our Institute would not be where it is today without them.

Our vision for the Institute materialized under the exceptional stewardship of Executive Director Tom Kinnear. He has fostered the spread of the Institute's mission throughout the U-M campus and served as an ambassador by enlisting the support of the venture capital business community. Tom has participated in our efforts to find his successor, and I have been very engaged in the process as well. Stewart Thornhill, our new executive director, begins on September 1. This leadership transition is proceeding smoothly with Tom's support and ongoing commitment to assist us in the future. In coming months, Stewart will delineate a strategic direction for the Zell Lurie Institute and provide the leadership to carry it forward.

As a benefactor and long-term investor in U-M's Zell Lurie Institute and Zell Entrepreneurship and Law program at the U-M Law School, I am a firm believer that entrepreneurship serves as the economic engine of this country. The risk to our country's future is that we could lose sight of this thesis. Therefore, my efforts — past, present and future — at U-M and other academic institutions are dedicated to reinvigorating that premise and inculcating young people who will perpetuate it and, hopefully, keep our country moving in the right direction.

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