TAMPA — Les and Pam Muma started dating in 1964 as students at the University of South Florida.
Fifty years and a rewarding life later, the Mumas are giving their alma mater the single largest donation it has received in its near-60-year history.
“We walked these halls,” Pam Muma said. “They carried us as two young students walking hand in hand, looking for what our future might bring.”
On Friday morning, USF officials unveiled the business school’s new name — the Muma College of Business — and announced that the couple, married now for decades, had donated $25 million. The money is part of USF’s ongoing “Unstoppable” campaign to raise $1 billion.
The announcement was made during an event in the rotunda of the College of Business building on USF’s main campus before a room full of faculty, staff and students.
“It’s a landmark day in the history of the University of South Florida and the College of Business,” USF President Judy Genshaft said. “It’s very unusual and special for a university founded in 1956 to receive this kind of gift.”
The donation brings to $41.2 million the total the Mumas have given to USF, making them the largest individual donors in the university’s history. Their name already was attached to the Pam and Les Muma Basketball Center, home of the Bulls’ men’s and women’s hoops programs since it opened in 2011.
The gift comes a little over a month after USF Saint Petersburg received a $10 million gift from entrepreneur Kate Tiedemann and named its College of Business after her.
Additionally, the university’s Morsani College of Medicine recently received $20 million from longtime auto dealer Frank Morsani and his wife, Carol.
College of Business Dean Moez Limayem said the Mumas’ latest donation will help build professional-development opportunities for faculty and the college’s 6,000-plus business students, through the creation of two new programs and improvements to others.
“This gift elevates USF into the top tier of business schools, one where donors so strongly believe in the mission and vision of the business school that they are willing to invest in it in a substantial and transformative way,” Limayem said.
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In 2013, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked USF’s part-time master’s in business administration program the best in Florida, No. 16 among public schools across the country and No. 36 among the nation’s public and private schools. The publication lists the business school as one of the best in the country and ranks its information systems specialty in the top 25.
The school’s accounting program has been ranked first in the nation by Brigham Young University.
An externship program will be set up with the new money to send faculty to work in the business world for six-month stints so they can come back with fresh knowledge and skills to transfer in their classrooms.
Additionally, a new Muma Leadership Program will give students a chance to receive professional development from the time they enter USF until they leave. They will be encouraged to participate in job readiness programs and attend special events, lectures and workshops.
The news was welcomed in the local business community.
“What is really exciting about this gift is that is designed to enable the USF Muma College of Business to engage students early on, and to proactively work with the Tampa Bay business community,” said Dan LeClair, executive vice president of AACSB International, a nonprofit based in Tampa and Singapore that works to improve business management.
“Everything the money will be used for is dedicated to strengthening the connection with the business community, student success, as well as faculty development. All aspects individually, and collectively, focus on goals we encourage—and are consistent with AACSB Accreditation.”
Some of the money will be used to expand programs that already exist. Currently, just 10 percent of first-generation college students in the business program participate in the college’s Corporate Mentoring Program, which pairs students with members of the business community.
Limayem said the program will expand to cover most first-generation students.
And the college will hire more staff members to help all business students find paid internships and connect with employers when they get ready to graduate.
“Because of this transformational gift, our students will have a great education,” Limayem said. “They will graduate ready for the job. They will be great decision makers. The whole business community will benefit.”
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For the Mumas, giving to the place where it all began for them — a long-lasting marriage and a successful life of business and philanthropy — took some thought but was a no-brainer in the end.
“Anybody who’s successful in life has a moral obligation to give back,” Les Muma said. “It was at this university, on this campus, at this business school that Pam and I were fortunate to build for us the springboard for the success I’ve had. The time is right for the College of Business. We can see it becoming one of the elite business schools.”
As a mathematics major at USF, Les Muma worked internships at Southern Bell in Jacksonville and International Mineral and Chemical in Bartow. He graduated in 1966 and landed a job in the information technology department at IMC.
In 1984, he co-founded Fiserv Inc., a Wisconsin-based Fortune 500 company with more than 150 locations that provides technology products and services to more than 17,000 financial institutions across the world. Fiserv has 21,000 employees and brought in $4.8 billion in revenue in 2013.
Les Muma, who retired in 2006, has served as chairman of the USF Foundation Board of Directors and chairman of the first phase of the “Unstoppable” campaign.
Pam Muma is a founding member of the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy organization and is on the boards of directors for the Tampa General Hospital Foundation and Florida Health Science. She also has been the chairwoman of Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay.
The couple has also made donations to USF Health and Tampa General Hospital.
In 2008, Pam Muma was selected from more than 138,000 people across the country for the Gold Leadership Award for volunteerism. Also in 2008, the local Association of Fundraising Professionals recognized the Mumas as Philanthropists of the Year.
The Mumas also have provided full-four year college scholarships to graduates of Winter Haven High School, where they both attended. So far, 18 scholarships have been awarded.
Maggie Butler, a past scholarship recipient, said it’s thanks to the Mumas that she was able to attend business school at USF and live on campus.
Butler landed a job after graduation working for Delta Airlines in Atlanta. In the two and a half years since she graduated, she has traveled to more than 20 countries.
“They gave me the world, quite literally,” she said. “I am even prouder to say every student that graduates from the USF College of Business can now say they are a Muma scholar.”
Tribune reporter Richard Mullins contributed to this reporter.
Dan LeClair, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Tampa-based Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which accredits business schools around the world.
Muma College of Business at a glance:
♦ Enrollment (2013-14): 5,460 undergraduate, 1,042 graduate, 49 research doctoral
♦ Offerings: Eight majors, nine minors and 16 graduate programs
♦ Faculty: 346
♦ Average base salary of graduates: $61,567