Pictured above: Roger, Fran, Elke, and Paul Koch, attending the 2018 Family Business Symposium where their $12 million gift to the university was announced.
Four members of St. Louis’s Koch family have contributed $12 million to endow and establish the Koch Center for Family Business and two professorships—one at Olin Business School and the other at the Washington University School of Law.
The family provided the gift to raise awareness about the complexities of family businesses and engage students in understanding the career opportunities available in such enterprises.
Roger and Fran Koch and Paul and Elke Koch “have been passionate about seeing a greater focus on family businesses here at Olin for many years,” said Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton, as he announced the gift.
“There’s a lack of perception about how many family businesses there are and what role they play,” Paul Koch said, following the announcement. “There’s also a lack of perception about the complexities of family businesses.”
The announcement kicked off the third annual Family Business Symposium at Olin—part of a family business initiative the Kochs established several years ago. The brothers noted how frequently family businesses fail to survive past the third generation of family ownership—a phenomenon Paul Koch said was “a waste of resources.”
Paul A. Koch (BSBA ’61, JD ’64, MBA ’68) and Roger L. Koch (BSBA ’64, MBA ’66) are co-chairmen of the board, and the third generation in leadership at Koch Development Co., a St. Louis-based developer and manager of commercial real estate and owner/operator of select entertainment attractions.
“It was clear from the moment I arrived in St. Louis that family business is integral to the community,” Dean Mark Taylor said during the announcement. “Some of the very first people I met—even before I became dean—were Roger, Fran, Paul, and Elke Koch. They have been extremely instrumental in thinking about how we can move forward scholarship in family business.”
Taylor noted that family businesses are a substantial driver of the global economy, responsible for 80 percent of new job creation. Family businesses contribute more than $68 trillion to global GDP and drive 64 percent of the US economy.
With the announcement, Olin will launch a search for the Koch Distinguished Professorship in Family Business, who will lead the new family business center, contributing to a curriculum for students and research in the field.
The center “will have a strong practical application and will also have a very, very strong research side,” Taylor said. “The Kochs were keen in their discussions that we should have a strong research leader.”
The Kochs’ $12 million gift also creates a distinguished professorship at the Washington University School of Law. Wrighton noted that the Kochs will “be providing additional expendable gifts, which will help with the ongoing growth and development of the Family Business Center and the endowed chair holder who will lead that center.”