Wall Street CEO Gives $10 Million Gift to Fund Schools of Business

A Wall Street CEO and his wife have pledged to give $10 million to Wake Forest University toward the construction of a new building for the Schools of Business designed to change the nature of business education.

Sketch rendering of Farrell Hall, future home of Wake Forest University Schools of Business (Photo: Business Wire).

Mike and Mary Farrell of Summit, N.J., parents of Michael Edward Farrell, a 2010 Wake Forest graduate, made history with their $10 million pledge, the largest cash commitment ever by living individuals to the University and the largest commitment to the Schools of Business to date.

Mike Farrell is chairman, chief executive officer and president of Annaly Capital Management Inc., the largest listed residential mortgage real estate investment trust on the New York Stock Exchange.

Despite the sluggish economy, Mike Farrell sees the push for the new building as timely: “The Empire State Building, the Rockefeller Center – these things were built during the Depression when people didn’t think they were achievable. When people are confused, scared and concerned about direction, you need to send a strong message that we can’t stop thinking about the future. We need to make sure we have the right leaders in place, and places like Wake Forest create those leaders.”

Calling Wake Forest “a unique American institution,” Farrell said, “This is the largest gift we’ve given, and I think, importantly, from the perspective of our family, it is probably the only project we would ever put our name on.”

The new building will be named Farrell Hall. In naming the building, the Farrells also are paying tribute to Mike Farrell’s late father, Michael John Farrell, a maintenance engineer who worked for the New York City Transit Authority.

The new home for the Schools of Business will use state-of-the-art technology and groundbreaking design to foster heightened faculty-student engagement. It will be built around a “living room” concept that brings faculty and students together in new ways, including flexible classrooms and collaborative spaces that take advantage of technological advances and allow for interactive learning.

The Calloway School of Business and Accountancy and the Babcock Graduate School of Management merged during the 2008-2009 academic year to form the Wake Forest University Schools of Business.

“The integration of the Schools of Business has already delivered great value for our students with the availability of more faculty resources and coordinated student services,” said Dean of Business Steve Reinemund, former chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, Inc. “We knew the integration could not be complete without a shared facility, and the Farrells’ gift will help us construct a world-class home worthy of the exciting future of the Wake Forest University Schools of Business.”

Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch said, “Our goal was to answer the question, ‘What do we want to be in management education and how can we translate this into a physical space?’ With this gift, the Farrells are demonstrating their support for the promising future of business education at Wake Forest. Mike and Mary are committed to values-based education, which is central to the mission of Wake Forest University. We share a joint commitment to quality, personal attention and values.”

Mike Farrell was a founding member of the Schools of Business Board of Visitors and previously served on the Calloway School’s Board of Visitors beginning in 2008.

Construction of Farrell Hall, whose designer is Robert A.M. Stern Architects, is expected to begin in the spring of 2011 with completion scheduled for the summer of 2013.

The Wake Forest University Schools of Business offer undergraduate programs in finance, accounting, mathematical business, and business and enterprise management, and graduate programs including a Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Accountancy and Master of Arts in Management. Our programs are consistently ranked among the world’s best in surveys by U.S. News & World Report, Business Week, the Economist, Forbes, and the Financial Times. Wake Forest graduates have earned the highest passing rate on the CPA exam for the past 5 consecutive years and have been ranked first or second for first-time pass rate in all but one year since 1997.