USF Receives $10.6 Million Gift to Open the Bellini Center for Talent Development
By Elizabeth L. Brown
TAMPA (March 24, 2022) – The University of South Florida Muma College of Business today celebrated the grand opening of the Bellini Center for Talent Development, an innovative career-development program housed in a state-of-the-art “business hub” adjacent to WUSF public media.
The center was made possible by a $10.6 million gift from philanthropists Arnold F. “Arnie” and Lauren Bellini, both USF alumni. It will bring together Tampa Bay-area business leaders and students for a three-year-plus credentialing program that creates a “talent pipeline” for employers and increases job placement for students.
“The Bellinis’ vision will provide our business students with a professional development program unlike any in existence, one that can serve as a national model,” said USF President Rhea F. Law. “We are grateful for this very generous gift, which will benefit our students, business partners, and the entire USF community for generations to come.”
More than 200 USF dignitaries, business leaders, faculty and students attended the ribbon-cutting event at the new center. Organizers played two videos showcasing what the center is all about.
The Bellinis are longtime supporters of USF and the Muma College of Business. Arnie Bellini co-founded ConnectWise Inc., a Tampa technology and software development company, in 1982. He sold the company in 2019 after revolutionizing the managed service segment of the IT industry and turned his focus to philanthropy, specifically, growing Tampa Bay’s IT business economy. His goal: Create 70,000 jobs by 2026.
Arnie Bellini described his $10.6 million gift as “responsible capitalism.”
“I feel responsible capitalism is truly acknowledging the true nature of your success and if you’re thinking holistically, you have to give back,” he said. “Everything that you learned in academia and everything that the business community wants — that gap in between is this, the Bellini Center, right behind me. We’re going to fill that gap. If you’ve had success, you have to give back.”
Moez Limayem, the Lynn Pippenger Dean of the Muma College of Business, reminded the crowd that they were witnessing a historic event.
“The Bellini Center is timely, relevant, and transformational — a space and program dedicated to both student and business success,” he said. “From the first day students set foot on our campus, they will get a jump-start on landing their dream job after graduation.”
“We want to get each Muma College of Business student an internship and the skills they need to succeed in any business environment. With the help of the Bellinis and this remarkable gift, that goal will soon become a reality,” he added.
The Bellini Center for Talent Development will be a one-stop shop for professional career development, job placement, advising, internships, and experiential learning opportunities for business students. Beginning in the second semester of their freshman year and continuing through senior year, students will attend workshops led by local business leaders and learn the soft skills employers seek. They’ll become adept at networking, interviewing, and displaying professionalism while developing relationships with potential future employers.
“The whole idea of the Bellini Center is to prepare students and to give them the tools for success early on,” said Cyndy Sanberg, executive director of the Bellini Center.
The center will open with 19 students, adding another 50 in the summer and 50 more in the fall. It will focus on internships early in a student’s academic journey and track placement and promotions.
“We know that internships can increase job placement two-fold,” Sanberg said. “But students are waiting until their junior or senior year to get an internship, and we need to change that. We will give them the tools they need to succeed.”
The center will also rely heavily on partnerships within the Tampa Bay business community.
“Employers are teaching the skills they want to hire students for. That’s huge. That’s what sets us apart,” Sanberg said. They’ll also introduce students to a variety of company cultures, beginning with a setting that feels more business than collegiate.
The vibrant 9,000-square-foot center is designed to stimulate creativity and innovation, with a layout geared toward facilitating student-employer interactions.
It includes a state-of-the-art 32-person seminar room, the main conference room, four “teaming” rooms where small groups can meet to collaborate, lounge areas, four employer interview rooms, and student workspaces that seat up to 24 people.
Hiring interns from USF for ConnectWise was tremendously successful for his company, Bellini said. The Bellini Center reimagines those valuable, traditional internship programs by expanding and formalizing opportunities for both business leaders and students.
Arnie Bellini earned an MBA from USF in 1982 and serves on the Muma College of Business Executive Advisory Council. Lauren Bellini is a 1991 USF marketing graduate. Their son, Peter Bellini, is a current USF MBA student.
Through their gift, the Bellinis help USF take its commitment to students and the Tampa Bay business community to the next level, said Jay Stroman, USF Foundation CEO.
“The Bellini Center will be a game-changer; the whole region will benefit for years to come. We’re grateful to Arnie and Lauren, two exceptionally dedicated and visionary USF alumni.”