Foundation Led by Alumnus Ed Snider Pledges Support for Study of Free Enterprise
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business will study enterprise and markets at a new center of excellence funded by $5 million from The Snider Foundation, led by alumnus Ed Snider. An additional $1 million commitment from the Charles Koch Foundation will help create The Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets.
Rajshree Agarwal, the Rudolph P. Lamone Chair and Professor in Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the Smith School, will serve as the center's first director. In addition to supporting existing faculty and student engagement, the gifts will enable the hiring of three tenured or tenure-track professors, along with five PhD students and four post-doctoral fellows. Plans for the center also include hiring a managing director and two support staff members.
"I have pursued research in innovation and entrepreneurship because I believe that truly successful businesses are moral enterprises, resulting from productivity, integrity and a sense of purpose," Agarwal said. "The Snider Center will promote a multidisciplinary exploration of the institutions that affect human enterprise, thereby impacting the prosperity and wellbeing of individuals and societies."
Ed Snider is an international sports and marketing visionary and the Chairman of Comcast-Spectacor, the Philadelphia-based firm that has its roots in Snider's start-up of the Philadelphia Flyers, the National Hockey League's most successful original expansion franchise. After earning an accounting degree from the University of Maryland and passing the CPA exam, Snider worked one week as an accountant. He and his partner then started their own record distribution business from the back of his car. During that period, he co-founded the National Association of Record Merchandisers (NARM), which exists to this day.
In 1966, Snider risked it all by mortgaging his home and founding the Flyers. The success of the franchise spawned a variety of media and entertainment-related companies that today, operate in 48 of the 50 United States, as well as internationally, and include, in addition to the Flyers, the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA; Global Spectrum, a public assembly facility management company; Ovations Food Services, a food and beverage concessionaire and catering service; Front Row Marketing Services, a sports-sponsorship and naming rights service; and Paciolan, a full-service ticket selling company.
Snider has also been generous with his philanthropy. In addition to chairing The Snider Foundation, in 2007 he created the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation ("Snider Hockey"). Snider Hockey provides more than 3,000 high-risk, inner-city children free equipment and ice time, free hockey instruction and league competition annually, together with mentoring, homework help and a life skills program. Participants in Snider Hockey have a year over year matriculation rate of 98 percent and its programs help young athletes achieve success in their chosen sport.
"This gift to the University of Maryland is a homecoming for me," Snider said. "While I built my career in Philadelphia, I cherished my time at UMD and never lost my connection to my alma mater. My entrepreneurial nature, coupled with the accounting degree I earned at Maryland, enabled me to take advantage of life's opportunities. My vision for today's college students is that they are armed with those skills, motivations and freedoms that I was and that enabled me to create value and opportunity for others through my various business endeavors."
"Growing up in Washington, D.C., I watched my father run a corner grocery store," Snider added. "He taught me to strive to be the best no matter what job I did, even if it was mopping floors. My career was not the result of a long-term plan. I just applied myself when opportunity knocked, and I innovated as I went along. Being free to follow your dreams, work hard and be rewarded for your labors is what life is all about."
The Snider Foundation commitment is the second-largest in school history, behind the $15 million naming gift from Robert H. Smith in 1997.
"Ed Snider's generous support will help us reach our goal of stimulating student innovation and entrepreneurship campus wide," says University of Maryland President Wallace Loh. "Mr. Snider is one of our most successful alumni because of his entrepreneurial and innovative strengths. The new center will help our students understand the way organizations can allow creative ideas to flourish."
The Snider Center gifts were received through the University of Maryland College Park Foundation.
"The Snider Center builds on the tradition of excellent scholarship and academic inquiry by UMD scholars," says Charles Koch Foundation President Brian Hooks. "We're excited to join the Snider family in supporting such a strong group of faculty whose research addresses important questions regarding the ability of individuals to lead fulfilling and productive lives."
"The Snider Center will not only study business as transactions among people within firms and markets, but also explore the history and philosophy of enterprise, markets and institutions," said Smith School Dean Alexander Triantis. "We're excited to pursue this interdisciplinary effort in collaboration with the College of Arts and Humanities and other schools at the university."
Triantis says the selection of the center's affiliates will adhere to academic norms and processes under Agarwal's leadership. Faculty, students and staff associated with the center will work to advance the school's educational mission through conferences, publishing and undergraduate activities.