Founders & Sponsors

The convictions and gifts of these thoughtful leaders and philanthropists provide the underpinnings for the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

Their dedication of funding, time, and expertise has helped the Business School to become an important contributor to the type of entrepreneurial talent and education, necessary to sustain a competitive advantage in today’s global economy shaped largely by innovation.


Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie

The Institute’s namesakes, whose entrepreneurial ascent began as University of Michigan students in the early 1960’s, are icons of American business success. While studying at Michigan, Sam Zell and Robert Lurie established a realty management service and began buying apartment buildings in Southeastern Michigan. Their entrepreneurial endeavors over the years grew into a successful business empire in oil, gas, insurance, and the nation’s largest apartment and office property real estate investment trusts – Equity Residential Properties Trust and Equity Office Properties Trust.

Until his recent death, in 2023, Sam Zell served as chairman of the board of both companies, which are headquartered in Chicago. Robert Lurie died in 1990 at the age of 48. His wife, Ann, is an active investor and philanthropist who together with Sam Zell, jointly committed a $10 million gift to establish the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Business School in 1999.

Ann Lurie

Michigan counts Ann Lurie as one of its most generous benefactors. In 1993, a $12 million commitment led to the construction of the Robert H. Lurie Engineering Center and the landmark Ann and Robert H. Lurie Tower, a carillon located on North Campus. Additionally, Ann has recently pledged $25 million to support focused efforts in biomedical engineering and integrated microsystems, bolstering interdisciplinary programs that offer tremendous opportunities to improve the quality of everyday life. Her gifts to the School of Social Work grew out of Ann’s sensitivity to the needs of children and families. The Marion Elizabeth Blue Professorship, dedicated to the memory of her mother, gave Social Work its first endowed chair.

Ann Lurie’s philanthropic reach extends well beyond the University of Michigan. She has devoted considerable resources to cancer prevention and treatment research at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University, endowed by endowed by Mrs. Lurie in 1990. In 2001, she committed the lead funding for the 12-story Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center on the Northwestern University Medical School Campus, completed in 2004. Numerous Chicago-based entities have also benefited from Ann’s generosity. Internationally active as well, Ann has personally founded and funded a preschool for Maasai children in a remote area of southeastern Kenya, along with a fully staffed mobile clinic that provides medical care for approximately 12,000 Maasai who reside in the area. She has constructed 20 schools in Ethiopia in cooperation with Save the Children and supports both an archaeological excavation on the Giza plateau and the Trust for Africa Rock Art.


Applebaum Family Philanthropy

Leadership, mentorship and philanthropy defined Eugene Applebaum’s extraordinary impact on the Detroit community. Eugene was known nationally in business circles for his founding of Arbor Drugs which he started with one store, Civic Drugs, in 1963, and grew over 35 years to 208 stores. With a central passion to nurture new ideas and promote opportunity, Eugene was influential in creating entrepreneurship as a focal point for the Business School and the wider university. In 1998, Eugene established the first Chair in Entrepreneurship at the Business School – The Eugene Applebaum Professorship Chair for Entrepreneurial Studies. Applebaum helped to pioneer and fund the first ever student lead venture fund in the country, the Wolverine Venture Fund. Now in its seventeenth year, The Eugene Applebaum Dare to Dream Program has provided Assessment and Integration funding opportunities to more than 1300 students enabling them to incubate and develop student-led entrepreneurial ventures. He was an inaugural member of The Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies Advisory Board.

Pamela Applebaum carries forward the legacy of leadership and commitment to entrepreneurism of her late father. In his honor, Ms. Applebaum created the Eugene Applebaum Family Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards, annually recognizing students who excel academically and demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit. Pamela is proud to continue the support of the Eugene Applebaum Dare to Dream Program and recently launched an entrepreneurial internship opportunity for students. Currently the President and CEO of Applebaum Ventures, Pamela serves on the Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies Advisory Board.

Paul S. Brentlinger

With an impressive history of supporting entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan Business School, Paul Brentlinger, increased that commitment in 2001 by funding an entrepreneurial case writing program. The program provides students with valuable insight into today’s issues facing entrepreneurs. The cases present an entrepreneurial company’s growth, management, or positioning within the marketplace and are used to teach entrepreneurship to students in the classroom. As an inaugural member of the Wolverine Venture Fund Advisory Board, where he served from 1998-2003, his investment acumen helped to mold the next generation of University of Michigan venture capitalists.

Mr. Brentlinger passed away in 2014. Mr. Brentlinger had served as a Partner in three Morgenthaler Partnerships since joining the firm in 1984. He received his BA (1950) and MBA (1951) degrees with distinction from the University of Michigan.

Harvey Spevak

Harvey Spevak is the Executive Chairman and Managing Partner of Equinox Group – a high-growth collective of the world’s most influential and differentiated lifestyle brands. Grounded in his vision to empower people to maximize their potential and their lives, Mr. Spevak is responsible for fueling continued success, building long-term strategy, and identifying growth opportunities for Equinox Group’s portfolio of brands including Equinox, Equinox Hotels, SoulCycle, Precision Run, Blink Fitness, Furthermore, PROJECT by Equinox, E by Equinox, Pure Yoga, Equinox Explore, and Variis by Equinox.

In addition to the creation of the Spevak Fund for Entrepreneurial Studies, Spevak’s gift supported a classroom in the 2016 expansion of the Ross School of Business.

Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan

In winter of 2002, a grant, provided by the Ann and Carman Adams Fund of the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan, enabled the Institute to further its commitment to entrepreneurship with the addition to an innovative program awarding grant money to University of Michigan students with a student-created business concept to launch operations while earning their degree.

Hal and Ann Davis

The Davis’ passion for entrepreneurship is displayed through their financial support of the Institute and through Mr. Davis’ devotion of time and energy to entrepreneurial education and programs. Mr. Davis is a former adjunct lecturer on new business creation at the Ross School of Business. He continues to serve as a mentor to students who seek to get their business off the ground and running, and provides input as an Advisory Board member to the Institute. In 2002, Mr. Davis was the recipient of the Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Award for his outstanding entrepreneurial achievements.

Hal Davis, former President, CEO and Chairman of BlueGill Technologies, founded his company in 1996 and built it into a dominant force in the Internet billing software industry. BlueGill was sold to CheckFree Holdings (CKFR – Nasdaq) in early 2000. Mr. Davis currently serves as an advisor for the Ann Arbor IT Zone and the University Musical Society. He is a dedicated musician and supporter of the performing arts. In 1999, he was voted Entrepreneur of the Year by the New Enterprise Forum. Mr. Davis received his BA in Biology (1973) and MBA (1985) from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation

Herbert D. “Ted” Doan, served as the President and CEO of The Dow Chemical Company from 1962-1971, which was founded by his grandfather Herbert Dow in 1892. As president and chairman of the Herbert H. & Grace A. Dow Foundation, Mr. Doan was instrumental in directing the gift from the Foundation to aid in the Institute’s founding. The funds serve to support the Institute’s mission and to grow and graduate a new generation of University of Michigan entrepreneurs.

In 1973 Mr. Doan founded Doan Associates, the second venture capital company in Michigan. Mr. Doan was an active public servant as well. He served on the National Science Board, the governing body of the National Science Foundation and the board of the Office of Technology Assessment. He worked with the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences and co-chaired Governor John Engler’s Venture Capital Task Force and served as president of the Michigan High Technology Task Force.

Stanley and Judy Frankel

When Stanley Frankel attended the University of Michigan, earning his AB and MBA in the 1960s, students traveled to Kalamazoo and Toledo to broaden their horizons. Today it is a different story: MBA students may elect to participate in international assignments as part of their coursework, gaining entrepreneurial experience in a global arena. Many have this opportunity because of Mr. and Mrs. Frankel’s generous gift to the School.

Michigan’s reputation for innovation is based in large part on its Multidisciplinary Action Projects or MAP, which became a requirement for all first-year MBA students in 1993. The Frankels support the international equivalent of MAP and the Global Projects course. In 2000, Mr. Frankel was acknowledged as the Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, for his exemplary business practices and longstanding community service as well as his support of MAP and the Global Projects course.

Marcel Gani

Supporting the belief that students can learn to be successful entrepreneurs through hands on experience with new venture companies, Marcel Gani’s gift is used expressly for student internships. The Marcel Gani Internship Program finances students to spend their summer gaining outstanding hands-on experience with start-up companies and venture capital firms. The Program provides students with a unique opportunity for exposure to every facet of a start-up company in a real-world environment and provides start-up companies with the opportunity to access talented, highly motivated students committed to entrepreneurship. Mr. Gani also serves as an Advisory Board member to the Institute.

He holds the position of Chief of Staff at Juniper Networks, Inc., a California-based firm that builds high-end equipment for routing traffic across the largest Internet backbones. Mr. Gani joined Juniper as the company’s CFO in 1997. He is also responsible for Information Systems and Human Resources. Marcel Gani received an MBA (1978) from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

William Hale

Clayton Hale, William Hale’s father, is one of the Business School’s earliest faculty practitioners. He founded and operated a successful insurance company in Cleveland, Ohio while commuting to Ann Arbor two days a week to teach at the Business School. Following retirement Professor Hale remained an active supporter of the Business School. His leadership gift was instrumental in the capital campaign for the former Assembly Hall Building. In recognition of his generosity, the former Hale Auditorium was named in his honor. In addition, Professor Hale provided for the School in his estate. While considering an appropriate designation for his father’s bequest, William Hale looked to his father’s entrepreneurial and academic legacy for inspiration.

In 1984, the Pryor business plan competition was created to provide a forum for students to test their business concepts. With the Hale gift in the mid 1990’s the name was changed to the Pryor-Hale business plan competition which in 2005 was incorporated into the campus-wide Michigan Business Challenge business plan competition. William Hale volunteers his time to serve as a judge for this competition.

Michael and Susan Jandernoa

The demonstrated level of commitment by Mr. and Mrs. Jandernoa to the development of life sciences activities is evident in their generous support of the Wolverine Venture Fund. The Fund gives students an opportunity to learn about emerging high-growth companies, including many in the life sciences, through deal flow, due diligence, and portfolio management. In addition, through the Marcel Gani Internship Program, their gift sponsors internships with life sciences companies. These internships place students among cutting-edge technology and leading researchers in this exciting industry. Mr. Jandernoa also contributes his time as a member of the School’s Visiting Committee. In 2002, he was the recipient of the School’s Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Award for his outstanding entrepreneurial achievements.

Mr. Jandernoa was fromerly the Chairman of the Board of Perrigo Company, the nation’s largest manufacturer and marketer of store brand over-the-counter drug and nutritional products. During his career at Perrigo he helped lead two LBO’s in 1981 and 1988 and the IPO in 1991. He is currently a Principal with Bridge Street Capital Partners. Mr. Jandernoa is a graduate of the University of Michigan and a Certified Public Accountant.

Millard Pryor Family

The Pryor family has Michigan ties reaching back to the 1920’s when Millard Pryor, Sr. was a student at the Business School. Over the years the close relationship between the Pryor family and the Business School resulted in a gift in 1984, in honor of Millard Pryor Sr., to create the Pryor business plan competition and support entrepreneurial internships. In 2005, the Pryor competition became part of the annual Michigan Business Challenge business plan competition and is the University’s only campus wide event of this type focused on business creation. The competition is held among teams of University of Michigan students, providing them with invaluable feedback and networking opportunities with entrepreneurial professionals.

Mitchell A. Mondry

Mr. Mondry has provided funding for Ross School of Business students to receive the Mitchell A. Mondry Entrepreneurial Scholarships for their second year. The scholarships benefit students with a proven interest in entrepreneurship that have demonstrated a meritorious grade point average.

Mr. Mondry currently serves as President of the M Group, a private investment company with $30 million in committed capital, located in Birmingham, Michigan. He received his AB (1982), MBA (1986), and JD (1986) degrees from the University of Michigan.

True to their entrepreneurial spirit, the Weisers consistently sponsor the School’s Student BBA and MBA Entrepreneur of the Year Awards and Student Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award, given annually to outstanding MBAs upon graduation. These awards serve as a visible means to recognize and honor students’ entrepreneurial achievements completed while earning their degree.

Ronald Weiser previously served as Ambassador to the Slovak Republic. Mr. Weiser founded McKinley Associates – an Ann Arbor-based national real estate investment company — in 1968, and served as its Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer prior to his appointment as Ambassador. He was also a member of the Board of Directors and past Chairman of Quantumshift, a California Internet-based telephone company of which he was one of the founders. Mr. Weiser is a former Member and Vice-Chair of the Michigan State Officer’s Compensation Commission. He has previously served on the University of Michigan President’s Advisory Board and on the Boards of numerous public non-profit organizations. He is a graduate of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and has done post-graduate work at the University’s Business and Law Schools.

Eileen Weiser has served on the boards of a number of civic organizations. She was elected in 1997 as a member of the Michigan State Board of Education. She also serves on the State Arts Council.

Ronald and Eileen Weiser

Ron and Eileen Weiser are longstanding U-M alumni, volunteers and donors, committing more than $100 million to the university to date. In addition to Ron Weiser’s service on the U-M Board of Regents, they both served as vice chairs of the Victors for Michigan campaign and support a wide range of programs across all three campuses of the university, including the Weiser Diplomacy Center, Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies, Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia, Michigan Medicine’s Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center, and the Chad Carr Pediatric Brain Tumor Center. In addition, the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; Michigan Medicine; School of Music, Theatre & Dance; UM-Dearborn, and dozens of other units have been beneficiaries of the Weisers’ generosity.

Ron Weiser, a 1966 graduate of Michigan Ross, is the founder of McKinley Inc., a national real estate investment company based in Ann Arbor. Eileen Weiser, an alumna of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, is a former executive director of the McKinley Foundation and served eight years on the National Assessment Governing Board. She has served on the University Musical Society Board of Directors and is a member of the UMS Senate. She just recently finished her second, eight-year term on Michigan’s State Board of Education and currently chairs the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars. She has also served on numerous civic boards.