"I am delighted to support Booth's Social Enterprise Initiative," Edwardson said. "Booth students, faculty and alumni are engaging in a variety of ways in the social sector, from starting their own social ventures, to choosing a career in the impact economy, making a meaningful commitment to philanthropic and volunteer activities, and doing academic research."
Led by faculty co-directors Marianne Bertrand, the Chris P. Dialynas Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, and Robert Gertner, deputy dean of the Part-Time MBA programs and the Joel F. Gemunder Professor of Strategy and Finance, the Initiative brings together researchers with social sector interests from across the University's academic disciplines, including economics, finance, marketing and psychology.
Edwardson was chairman and chief executive of CDW from 2001 to 2011. He remained chairman until he retired in 2012. The company is a leading provider of technical products and services for business, government and education. Earlier in his career he was president of United Airlines, chief financial officer of Northwest Airlines, president of Burns International Services and executive vice president of Ameritech, now part of AT&T.
Edwardson received Booth's Distinguished Corporate Alumni Award in 2006, for his successful track record in business."There has been a big increase in student interest regarding how proven business practices can improve efficiency in the social sector and how businesses can think strategically about how they produce social good," said Gertner, faculty co-director of the Initiative. "The Initiative will support greater social impact through the education of leaders across the business landscape interested in social sector ideas and dedicated to applying rigorous thought and proven business practices." "There is a shortage of rigorous research on the social sector as a whole, including its funding and incentive structure," said Bertrand, the other faculty co-director. "With the resources now made available to us by John's gift, our faculty can conduct research in these areas, and the conversation can go deeper."