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Former Charlotte Hornets owner George Shinn gives $15 million to university, largest gift in school history

Kim Chaudoin | 615.966.6494  | 


Lipscomb University has received a $15 million gift, its largest gift in institution history, president L. Randolph Lowry announced Monday night, April 3, at its Imagine 2017 “Nashville: Prosperity for All Corners of the City” event.

SHINN_MagicGeorge Shinn, former owner of the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets, made the gift as an investment in Lipscomb University’s College of Entertainment & the Arts and to fund a new events center among other initiatives. In recognition of this gift, the college will be named the Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts.

“This is a significant moment in the history of Lipscomb University,” said Lowry. “We are grateful to George Shinn and his commitment to this institution. This gift is an investment in our College of Entertainment & the Arts as a way to continue to elevate the image of the school as a leader in arts and entertainment education in Nashville and in the nation. His generosity will also serve the greater Nashville community through the new events center that will be developed as a result.”

Lipscomb’s College of Entertainment & the Arts is the fastest growing in the university, with undergraduate degrees in cinematic arts, fashion and design, music, theater and dance, and visual arts and a graduate program in cinematic arts.

“The mission of Lipscomb University's College of Entertainment & the Arts is to be a Christ-centered, innovative, entrepreneurial arts community committed to rigorous artistic training, creative collaboration and professional growth that seeks to train the next generation of believer artists who seek to uplift, challenge and entertain culture through their art,” said Mike Fernandez, dean of the Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts. “We are very grateful for George Shinn’s passion for Lipscomb’s program and for his generosity that will enable us to impact the lives of students for generations to come.”

Shinn said he was particularly interested in investing in the College of Entertainment & the Arts because he likes to tell stories.

SHINN_Kopio“Throughout the Bible Jesus uses stories,” he said. “When I talk to young people I like to encourage them that they can do anything with their lives that they want to, just like I’ve been blessed to do with my life. If you apply those same principles in reaching out to these young people in all the things we can do through song and music right here in Music City that these people can sing out stories of faith, changing people’s lives and can do that right here from this wonderful university.”

“I love what you’re doing at Lipscomb, and I want to thank all of you (donors in the audience) for what you’ve done to support and lift up this university,” he continued. “Some of the greatest people in the world work here and are part of this university. Be proud of it and please continue to support it.”

Shinn, a resident of Franklin, Tennessee, is founder of the George Shinn Foundation, which is dedicated to helping people in need. It is committed to building God’s kingdom and reflecting its founder’s deep Christian faith by furthering the work of churches, ministries, missionaries, and nonprofit organizations.

One of the foundation’s most important outreach efforts to date, The George Shinn Foundation Clinic in Haiti, was officially dedicated in May 2013. The foundation has a long-standing partnership with organizations working to rebuild Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake and has contributed to projects there including serving a school, orphanage, an urgent care medical clinic and church complex to the poor in Port-au-Prince.

SHINN_JohnsonsIn addition to the Shinn gift announcement, Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations, Magic Johnson and his wife, Cookie, were the featured speakers at Imagine 2017., where they shared their story of faith and redemption. Last fall, Cookie Johnson released Believing in Magic: My Story of Love, Overcoming Adversity, and Keeping the Faith, her memoir, published by Howard Books, about her marriage, motherhood, faith, and how an HIV diagnosis 25 years ago changed the course of their lives forever. Since retiring from the NBA over 20 years ago, Magic Johnson has become a business powerhouse who has dedicated his life to leaving a positive impact in underserved urban communities. He had the vision to revitalize Nashville’s Gulch area and invested more than $20 million a decade ago into the Terrazo condo project to jump-start the transformation.

“Through the Imagine 2017 theme—Nashville: Prosperity for All Corners of the City — the Lipscomb community will begin to examine the ideas of faith, redemption, entrepreneurship and community transformation,” said John Lowry, vice president for development and external affairs. “We are thrilled that Magic and Cookie Johnson have joined us to help us as a community examine these very important topics and that we had the opportunity to celebrate George Shinn and his extremely generous gift to this institution. They have stories that align closely with our institution, which is a place of faith, redemption, innovative solutions and entrepreneurship.”

—Photos by Kristi Jones and Jamie Gilliam