IU unveils $15M donor for biz-school expansion

Bigger and better surroundings for undergrads at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business will be named Hodge Hall, in honor of an alumnus who is giving $15 million for the project.

IU publicly thanked James Hodge, an Indiana native who is president of Permal Asset Management Inc. in New York City for the gift, which he pledged anonymously in 2009.

Hodge, 59,who was born in Marion, said he decided to go public about the donation in hopes of spurring more giving toward the $60 million project.

“I’m getting older,” he said. “I better say something about it while I know what I’m talking about.”

Construction is due to start this spring on an expansion to the original undergraduate facility, built in 1966. IU has raised enough to start that phase of the project, which is estimated to cost $30 million.

The university is still seeking another $30 million for a second phase of renovations. The whole project is supposed to be wrapped up in five years.

IU said the project will create spaces that allow Kelley faculty to provide “technology-mediated experience that will literally bring the world to Bloomington.”

Dan Smith, dean of the Kelley school, said the building project will “transform the way in which we approach business education and, in the process, fundamentally improve the lives of students for years to come. And none of this would have been possible were it not for Jim’s incredible generosity.”

With 4,000 undergraduates enrolled, the Kelley school’s existing classrooms are 100-percent booked, and the school routinely turns away more than 500 qualified applicants because of space limitations, according to an IU press release. The project will add more than 20 new classrooms.

He credits the Kelley faculty with boosting his confidence and imparting important lessons that he still uses in business. In his first meeting with Leslie Waters, the professor explained that he couldn’t accept a small gift, a pen-and-pencil set, from a student who was about to graduate because it was prohibited under university policy.

“I think a number of people from my financial services world would have benefitted from this early lesson, with some of them paying heavy career prices for accepting small gifts like tickets to sporting events,” Hodge said.

Waters, his faculty adviser, also told him, in not so many words, to ‘man-up’ and take calculus, Hodge said.

“I generally think that whatever’s gone right for me in my career was started the day I walked into Waters’ office,” he said. “In Bloomington, the sun came out for me.”

Hodge earned a bachelor’s degree with highest distinction in 1974. He earned an MBA at Harvard University and went on to become president of Permal, one of the oldest and largest alternative asset-management firms in the world.

Hodge serves on the Dean’s Council and is on the board of directors of the IU Foundation. He previously funded an endowed chair at the school.  

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