June 13, 2007
A name long associated with entrepreneurship now also will be associated with fostering future business leaders at HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College.

Alex Grass, retired Rite Aid CEO, has given $1.5 million to the college to establish the Alex Grass School of Business Leadership, which will open with the fall semester on Aug. 20.

"As a leader in business, Alex has made a commitment to the future of the Harrisburg area and to business," Dr. Edna Baehre, HACC president, said a presentation at the C. Ted Lick Wildwood Conference Center on the Harrisburg Campus.

"He understands the need to train the next generation of business leaders in the very best practices," she continued. "Mr. Grass' gift will help ensure that business thrives in this market and that Harrisburg will long be known as a center of excellence."

The $1.5 million contribution, which will be spread over a decade, is the largest single gift in the college's history, Dr. Baehre said. The endowment will make it possible for the school to draw not only on Grass' business acumen to inspire future leaders but bring other national and international business leaders to HACC.

Grass, a well-known philanthropist and benefactor of many causes over the years, called the Harrisburg Campus "impressive" and deserving "of the support of the entire community."

"I am a Harrisburger, and I think HACC is an important institution in our city," Grass said.

"Establishing the Alex Grass School of Business Leadership will provide a focus for the systematic review and enhancement of our existing business offerings, as well as an opportunity to explore new ways that we can meet industry needs throughout Central Pennsylvania," said Ronald R. Young, HACC vice president of academic affairs and enrollment management.

In addition, "the school will be a tremendous asset in meeting faculty professional growth needs and expanding the educational experience of our students," Young said.

The Alex Grass School of Business Leadership, which will be located in Clyde E. Blocker Hall on the Harrisburg Campus, will include a business leader in residence program. Grass will be the first to hold the voluntary position.

"The vision for the school is two-fold," explained William R. Thompson, HACC dean of Business, Hospitality, Engineering and Technology.

In addition to helping the region's business become better prepared to compete in the global market, the school will assist start-up businesses with market research, identify funding sources, find suitable premises, establish accounting and record-keeping files and assist with writing requisite business plans, Thompson said.

A third initiative will be an investment venture using financial support from the Grass endowment. Students participating in a Personal Investment Training program will able to make intelligent, risk-free investments with the endowment absorbing the gains and losses, Thompson said.

Grass, who has lived in Harrisburg since the 1950s, left Rite Aid in 1995. In recent years, he has made a number of philanthropic gifts, including the funding of the Jewish Community Center Campus in Harrisburg, the Grass Center for Drug Design and Synthesis of Novel Therapeutics at Hebrew University of Jerusalem's School of Pharmacy, the Alex Grass professorship of oncology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and an endowed chair in Jewish Studies at the University of Florida.

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