UNCW receives $10M donation to establish new school


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — UNCW just received the largest gift in the university’s history, and it came from two former Seahawks.

The university announced today it has received a $10 million gift commitment from David Congdon ’78 and his wife Helen.

- Advertisement -

UNCW will establish the David S. Congdon School of Supply Chain, Business Analytics and Information Systems supporting these programs within the Cameron School of Business. The Computer Information Systems Building will also be rededicated as David S. Congdon Hall.

David Congdon wanted to give back to the place he used to call home.

“I’ve always looked up to the school. Watched it grow. I felt like I wanted to do something. I didn’t know what,” Congdon said.

“Generous and innovative philanthropic leaders like the Congdons help the university address the most pressing needs of the region, building workforce expertise and benefiting local industries,” UNCW Chancellor Zito Sartarelli said. “We are confident that this commitment will serve as a catalyst to inspire other donors who want to transform the lives of students and help us engage faculty, alumni and the community to expand, explore, and address the issues important to our region.”

David Congdon graduated from UNCW in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and was named the 2008 Cameron School of Business Alumnus of the Year. He has spent his entire career, which began when he was a teenager and continued after graduation, with Old Dominion Freight Line Inc. The company was founded in Richmond, Va., in 1934 by his grandparents. Its headquarters was relocated to High Point, NC, in the early ‘60s where the Congdon family has resided since. David’s experience has included dockworker, truck driver, mechanic, industrial engineer and various executive positions leading up to his promotion to the role of President and Chief Operating officer from 1997-2015. He was named CEO in 2008 and currently acts as Executive Chairman of the Board. Congdon has been recognized in the Triad and by Fortune magazine for his business and community leadership, and he serves on a number of community and industry boards.

According to a news release, it is anticipated that the Congdons’ gift will have a substantial impact in facilitating scholarships and professorships; providing research support; creating and maintaining corporate sponsorships; advancing program technology and equipment; and making capital improvements to the Computer Information Systems Building.

“We’re going to be able to hire professors. We’re going to be able to do more scholarships, attract great students. We’re going to be able to do more research. We’re going to be able to partner with his company, in fact, as he was mentioning. So, there are all kinds of opportunities,” Sartarell saidi.

Sartarelli says the new school will make them more competitive, and push students into high paying jobs.

“That combination of high quality students, high quality teaching, high quality of research. It’s going to enable these students to land jobs with all kinds of companies,” said Sartarelli.

“The Congdons’ transformational investment will provide an opportunity to increase access to high-achieving students, recruit and retain world-class faculty, and invest in state-of-the-art technology,” said Cameron School of Business Dean Robert Burrus. “This investment will help spark the careers of students who plan to work in industries that are rapidly growing and that pay high starting salaries.”

Congdon worked his way up at Old dominion Freight Line, from truck driver to CEO. He says giving this gift is so special.

“It’s very heartwarming. It brings tears to my eyes a little bit when I think about it,” said Congdon.

Congdon says he hopes that one day, his company can hire some Congdon School grads itself.