College News

Alumnus Launches Leadership, Entrepreneurship Program with Gift

From the May 2018 Desktop News | Jeffrey A. Levitetz has committed $1 million through his family’s foundation to The University of Alabama’s College of Arts and Sciences to establish the Levitetz Leadership Program.

Jeff Levitetz give $1 million to support a new leadership program in New College.
Jeffrey Levitetz give $1 million to support a new leadership program in New College.

The program will provide scholarships, internship stipends, workshops, lectures and innovation grants to students in New College—an interdisciplinary program where students can create their own major by taking courses throughout the University.

“The New College program at The University of Alabama has played a very important role in my life,” said Levitetz, founder of the Levitetz Family Foundation. “I am honored to be able to give back to the program that has made such a difference to me. The Levitetz Family Foundation is very proud to embark on this new program and give students the opportunity to succeed.”

As a New College graduate and entrepreneur, Levitetz is deeply committed to providing students with the interdisciplinary skills that will propel them forward as they leave UA and enter the workplace. The Levitetz program focuses on this goal by promoting and financially supporting creativity, leadership and civic engagement.

Each year the Levitetz program will allow New College to award scholarships to students who exhibit creativity and entrepreneurship or who have served or plan to serve in the United States Armed Forces.

The gift will also be used to provide annual stipends for New College students who have secured unpaid summer internships.

“According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, more than 75 percent of college students complete at least one internship—many of these are unpaid opportunities,” said Dr. Natalie Adams, director of New College. “However, financial barriers often prevent low-income college students from participating in unpaid internships. Going to New York or LA for an unpaid internship isn’t feasible for many of our students. It’s too expensive, so those internships become a privilege for only certain groups of students.

“Having stipends to help financially-strapped students offset the costs of unpaid internships is going to be huge.”

Adams and Levitetz also have plans to help students learn career-centric skills while on campus through guest lectures, workshops and eventually an annual leadership and arts entrepreneurship conference.

The final portion of the Levitetz gift will be dedicated to supporting the innovation of students and faculty through seed grants.

“Our hope is that this seed money will enhance students’ ability to be competitive in startup competitions, including the Edward K. Aldag Jr. Business Plan Competition,” Adams said.

On March 27, two Levitetz scholars, Alex Haisting and Robert Petit, won $52,500 at the Aldag competition, and Adams is confident that Levitetz’s increased investment will provide even more students the opportunity to compete for startup funding.

Jeff Levitetz was a New College student in the late 1970s—studying marketing and business management. He started his company, Purity Wholesale Grocers Inc., out of the trunk of his car. In the last decade, Levitetz has made annual gifts to New College supporting scholarships and has personally lectured biennially on campus. Nearly 150 UA students have been proud to be called Levitetz Scholars.