Texas McCombs Honors Harkey Institute Donors

Campaign for entrepreneurial studies raises $13.5 million of $20 million goal

Texas McCombs
Texas McCombs News

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Peni Barfield, John D. Harkey Jr., ’83, and their daughters Meredith Sheth, B.A. ’18, J.D. ’21, and Morgan Weaver, B.A. ’20, are applauded as they arrive at the McCombs School of Business dedication ceremony celebrating the family’s $10 million naming gift to the school’s Harkey Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies.

With help from graduates, their families, and other donors, the Harkey Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies has raised $13.5 million in its $20 million matching-fund campaign. The McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin dedicated the institute and honored John D. Harkey Jr., BBA ’83, his wife, Peni Barfield, and matching donors on Friday.

These gifts have helped Texas McCombs land the No. 2 spot in the 2024 Princeton Review’s ranking of the top 50 U.S. undergraduate business schools for entrepreneurship. Texas McCombs was also No. 2 in 2023 and has been in the top 5 for three consecutive years.

Uplifting Entrepreneur: A video tribute to entrepreneur and philanthropist John D. Harkey Jr., BBA ’83, namesake of the Harkey Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, in honor of his induction into the McCombs Hall of Fame in 2022.

The Harkey Institute was established in 2021 through a $10 million naming gift from Harkey and Barfield. The donation was designed to be a one-to-one match, the Harkey Match, for other donors. Matching opportunities are available for all institute investments of $500,000 or more in endowed funding. Specific naming recognition opportunities remain at the $2.5 million-plus level.

Blair Moffett, Bubba Moffett, BBA ’91, and family; Carol Goldman and Ronnie Goldman, BBA ’64; and Ben Friedman have contributed a total of $3.5 million to the matching campaign.

Harkey’s entrepreneurial spirit was inspired by his father, who told him, “You have the freedom to explore and be creative if you control your destiny by being captain of your ship.” Harkey went on to become a private investor, philanthropist, and chief executive in the public and private sectors.

He now has more than 25 years of experience in biotech, energy, technology, aerospace, telecom, software, entertainment, restaurants, health care, and real estate. In the medical field, his companies have worked on gene therapies, a nonopioid severe pain reliever, and vaccines for addictions to fentanyl, heroin, and nicotine. He serves on the board of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and is CEO of Consolidated Restaurant Companies. Harkey was inducted into the McCombs Hall of Fame in November 2022.

The Harkey Institute helps spread his entrepreneurial spirit through teaching, mentoring, and supporting undergraduate students of all majors. Its signature programs include the Entrepreneurship Minor, the Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Mentor Program, the Blair and Bubba Moffett Summer Entrepreneurship Academy, the McCombs Entrepreneur Summer Fellowship, the Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community, and Startup City Limits.

The Entrepreneurship Minor launched in 2018 with fewer than 90 students; it is now the second-largest minor on campus, with more than 800 students from over 170 majors. About 75% of those students come from outside Texas McCombs.

The institute has also established an undergraduate entrepreneurship Living Learning Community at Jester Center. It admits incoming students directly into the Entrepreneurship Minor and immerses them in the entrepreneurial ecosystem at the University and in Austin. They have a network of fellow entrepreneurial students, mentors, and custom programs.

On Friday, one of the institute’s latest initiatives — the Startup City Limits Showcase — also honored Harkey. The afternoon conference, bearing the theme “Driving Innovation,” featured entrepreneurs, panels, and interactive installations discussing failures, successes, challenges, milestones, and pit stops.

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Texas McCombs
Texas McCombs News

News, business research, and ideas from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. Learn more at www.mccombs.utexas.edu