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$10 Million Gift from Grad Gives USF School of Mass Communications New Name


It's yet another multimillion dollar donation and corresponding name change for a University of South Florida school. But this one's a little bit different.

The amount of the donation -- $10 million -- is the same as two of the three previous gifts, and the giver is a USF graduate, also like two of the previous donors. This time, however, the recipient isn't a USF business school.

Instead, it's the newly named Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications, part of the USF College of Arts and Sciences.

It's named for USF Trustee Jordan Zimmerman, the founder and chairman of Ft. Lauderdale-based  Zimmerman Advertising, the largest advertising agency in the southeast U.S. by billing.

In an interview before the name change was formally announced Monday morning, Zimmerman told WUSF News that he felt it was time to give back to his alma mater.

"USF gave me the opportunity to dream big, gave me the opportunity to build my confidence, and most importantly, educated me well so I was ready to go into the world with the differentiated business model for the ad world," Zimmerman said. 

Zimmerman has a history of gifts to USF's advertising program. He's endowed both a scholarship and a professorship, and has sent a number of his agency's executives to teach classes.

With this donation, he's hoping to bring similar practices to the school's other programs.

"I think you're going to see the influence that we have on the Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications will be infectious in the entire school," he said. "The encouragement will come to advance curriculums, first and foremost -- make every curriculum in the school a curriculum that is relevant and important to today." 

"We want our students to be highly recruited at a premium," he added. "They're better trained for the real world today with a real experience -- coming into internship programs that aren't just basic internship programs, but are truly working internship programs where they learn to focus on the specialty within the degree that they're going to be graduating with."

And Zimmerman, a self-professed "dreamer," has a lofty goal for the school.

"Our vision is to build the number of advertising and communication schools in the country, and perhaps the world," Zimmerman said. "At USF, it has always been students first, and for Jordan Zimmerman and the Zimmerman Family Foundation, it's always about the students first."

You can hear more from Jordan Zimmerman by listening to the interview posted above. We'll also update this story after the ceremony announcing the name change happens Monday.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.