Austin E. Cofrin School of Business is new at UW-Green Bay

Effective this Thursday (July 1), the name Austin E. Cofrin School of Business will apply to undergraduate and graduate business and accounting programs at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Chancellor Thomas K. Harden announced the changeover this week. He also set the date for a campus reception formally acknowledging the Cofrin Family’s most recent contributions to the development of UW-Green Bay. Those ceremonies will take place Oct. 5.

“It is a perfect match,” Harden said of renaming the Business Administration academic unit, UW-Green Bay’s largest in terms of alumni and current enrollment. “Austin E. Cofrin embodied entrepreneurship in growing his small Green Bay operation into a world leader in the paper products industry. Determination in pursuing innovation and efficiency defined his approach to business.

“We are proud to honor his memory, and delighted that current and future students in the Austin E. Cofrin School of Business may be inspired by his example.”

Cofrin founded the Fort Howard Paper Co. in 1919 on the west shore of the Fox River. He died in 1980 at the age of 96. Industry colleagues praised Cofrin for his visionary leadership and resourcefulness in solving problems and anticipating trends — Fort Howard was decades ahead of the market in embracing waste paper recycling, for example.

It was a desire to more fully honor Austin Cofrin’s legacy that led his son, Dr. David A. Cofrin, shortly before his death in August 2009, to announce a $5.5 million gift to the University. That contribution, the largest single private gift for academics in the history of UW-Green Bay, will create a fully endowed chair (an additional faculty position in business), and fund a permanent, universitywide endowment for faculty development and academic enhancements.

The late Dr. David Cofrin and his wife, Mary Ann Cofrin, have been influential in a range of developments at UW-Green Bay over the last three decades, from the campus arboretum and the support of scholarly activity and special collections in the natural sciences and fine arts, to construction of the acclaimed Weidner Center for the Performing Arts.

The University’s academic programs in business and accounting date to the school’s founding in the late 1960s and account for about 5,600, or roughly one-fifth, of the institution’s 27,000 alumni.

There are more than a thousand current undergraduate or graduate students in the School. Nearly 500 undergraduates list Business Administration majors, 175 list accounting majors, and another 330 carry minors in business, accounting or international business. The Master’s of Management graduate program currently enrolls about 50 students.

Permanent signage designating the location of the Austin E. Cofrin School of Business will have to wait until fall 2011. That’s when the long-scheduled remodeling of Wood Hall, the program’s home, is expected to be completed. Business and accounting faculty will occupy temporary quarters in MAC Hall while work on Wood Hall is under way early next year.

Prof. Marilyn Sagrillo, the program’s chairperson, says this Thursday (July 1) will see the Austin E. Cofrin School of Business banner appear on the School’s website. The new name will also be reflected on business cards, in answering phone calls and in correspondence.


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