Robert H. Ledbetter, Sr. Pledges $1.5 Million to Shorter College,
Business School to be Named in His Honor
February 4, 2010 - Shorter College officials announced at a dinner on Thursday, Feb. 4, that longtime Rome businessman Robert H. Ledbetter, Sr. is funding $1.5 million to enable the location of the college’s School of Business in the MidTown Crossing Shopping Center in Rome. To honor Mr. Ledbetter’s generosity, Shorter will name its business school the Robert H. Ledbetter College of Business. This represents the first of Shorter’s schools to be named.
“Mr. Ledbetter’s gift allows us to have a newly renovated space to house our business programs in a facility that would have cost close to $5 million to build,” said Dr. Harold E. Newman, president of Shorter. “By providing new facilities for Shorter’s largest school, this generous gift will greatly impact Shorter and our students. In addition, it is a wonderful legacy for a man who has given so much to support education in this area.”
When renovation work is complete, the Ledbetter College of Business will occupy 30,250 square feet of space in the shopping center. The facility will be home to Shorter’s undergraduate programs in business, business programs in the college’s Professional Studies programs for working adults, and Rome-based support staff for Professional Studies. There will be a dedication ceremony of the new Robert H. Ledbetter College of Business building in August. Shorter plans to move into the facility before the beginning of the fall 2010 semester, and Dr. Newman described the timing as “a wonderful way to launch Shorter University.”
Left to right: Dr. Robert (Dub) Darville, dean of the Shorter School of Business, Dr. Harold E. Newman, president of Shorter College, Robert H. Ledbetter, Sr. and Stephanie Owens, chief financial officer of Shorter College
A Rome native, Robert H. Ledbetter, Sr. is a well-known real estate developer and investor. He serves as chairman and CEO of R.H. Ledbetter Properties, Inc., which was ranked among the top 100 retail real estate owners in the nation in 2009 by Retail Traffic magazine. The company’s portfolio consists of more than 1.3 million square feet of investment properties located in communities such as Rome, Cartersville, Dalton, Jasper and Ellijay, Ga.; Knoxville and Goodlettsville, Tenn.; and suburban Indianapolis, Ind.
Mr. Ledbetter is a graduate of Culver Summer School, Darlington School and Culver Military Academy. He earned the Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Management from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1958 and later served in the United States Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga as a LTJG.
Mr. Ledbetter’s philanthropic gifts include $1 million for the establishment of The Robert H. Ledbetter, Sr. Endowment Fund in support of the Robert H. Ledbetter, Sr. Professor of the Practice of Real Estate Development in the College of Management at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In 1999, he also established the R.H. Ledbetter Family Endowment for the Naval School of the Culver Educational Foundation to build and maintain the 70-foot sailing ship The R.H. Ledbetter. Robert H. Ledbetter, Sr. and his family have made a $1 million commitment to Darlington School’s Second Century Campaign for the new Middle School building.
The establishment of the Ledbetter College of Business at Shorter represents the continuation of a close relationship between the Ledbetter family and the college which dates back nearly to Shorter’s founding in 1873. One of the college’s first trustees was Capt. A.W. Ledbetter, a Civil War veteran who established a number of businesses in Rome; he served as a Shorter College trustee for 26 years and was named a trustee emeritus of the institution. Mr. Ledbetter’s father, Allison W. Ledbetter, Sr., later served on the college’s Board of Trustees and, in the 1950s, became the first president of the Shorter College Scholarship Fund, Inc., which was established by a group of Rome businessmen who sought to provide financial support for local youth to attend Shorter.
Robert H. Ledbetter, Sr. served on Shorter’s Board of Trustees from 2003 to 2005 and on the college’s Board of Visitors from 1996 to 2000. In 2008, he served as honorary chairman of the Pursuit of Excellence Campaign for Shorter College Athletics. Mr. Ledbetter financially supported the development of the on-campus baseball complex, which also bears his name.
“I’ve always felt like God wanted me to do something, and I believe what He has asked me to do is to help in education,” Mr. Ledbetter said of his reasons for making the gift. “There is probably not a greater gift a man or woman can make than to invest in education. I believe God has blessed me for that reason. Through the years, I have been able to invest millions of dollars in philanthropic endeavors and never, years ago, would have believed I would be able to do this.”
In the fall of 2009, Shorter College’s School of Business enrolled approximately 30 percent of the college’s traditional students. The school is headed by Dr. Robert H. “Dub” Darville, dean, who also serves as Sewell Chair of Business Ethics and Professor of Accounting at Shorter.
Dr. Darville stressed that Mr. Ledbetter’s gift is significant because it will greatly strengthen the ties between Shorter and the area business community. “Mr. Ledbetter’s generosity has provided a space for us in a thriving business center,” Dr. Darville said. “This will give students the opportunity to see business in action and to witness firsthand the sense of entrepreneurial spirit that has been so closely aligned with Mr. Ledbetter through the years.”
Degrees offered through the school include the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Accounting; the BBA in Accounting, CPA Track (which is the only undergraduate program in the state of Georgia offering the 150 hours of training needed to meet requirements to meet CPA licensure requirements); the BBA in Business with concentrations in General Business, Management, and Marketing; the BBA in Sport Management; the Bachelor of Science in Economics; and several minors, including a minor in Forensic and Fraud Accounting. The School of Business also includes the Department of Management Information Systems and currently offers the Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems. Plans call for the addition of a major in Management Information Systems.
In addition to its degree programs, Shorter’s School of Business houses the Hopkins Institute for Business Ethics, which hosts an ethics lecture each spring for the Shorter and Rome communities. Recently, Shorter’s SIFE organization, a chapter of Students in Free Enterprise, won “Rookie Chapter of the Year” at regional competition.
Founded in 1873, Shorter College is a Christian college committed to excellence in education. Since 2003, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Shorter among the South’s best baccalaureate colleges, and The Princeton Review annually includes Shorter on its lists of best value and best Southeastern colleges. The college offers traditional bachelor’s degree programs in 48 major areas as well as undergraduate degree programs for working adults, the Master of Business Administration and the Master of Arts in Leadership. Online courses are also available. Shorter will transition to university status June 1, 2010. For more information, visit www.shorter.edu.
See a photo gallery from the dinner>