Strome Announces World’s First School of Professional Sales and Negotiations with Thurmond Gift
On April 14, 2022, the Strome College of Business at Old Dominion University inaugurated the world's first collegiate school of professional sales and negotiations with a generous gift of $6 million in support from alumnus Richard B. Thurmond '76 (Marketing). This transformational gift will elevate the range of programming available to students, the community, and industry professionals, improve access to negotiation skills education in underserved communities, and serve as an exemplar to business schools that now offer programs in both sales and negotiations.
Highlighting the uniqueness of the Thurmond School of Professional Sales and Negotiations, Dean Jeff Tanner said, "The impact of the Thurmond School will go far beyond the classroom because of the dual focus on empowering women and others through stronger negotiations and communications skills and preparing students for careers involving sales and negotiations." Funds from the endowment will be used to offer undergraduate degrees in negotiations and professional sales, graduate courses, professional certificates in negotiations and professional sales, and communications workshops for women and underserved groups both on and off campus. The Thurmond School also funds grants to ODU researchers.
The School builds on the Thurmond Negotiations Lab (TNL) which was established in 2017. The Lab has served the local business community through seminars, workshops, and other educational programs. Consistent with the vision of Dick Thurmond, the TNL has also offered free workshops targeting women and minorities, as well as research that supports the development of effective programming, the first of which supported a study of how to strengthen communication and conflict resolution skills of incarcerated youth. Along with TNL's success in offering training to external communities, the growth of the undergraduate professional sales program has generated scholarly and market demand to establish the first School of Professional Sales & Negotiations.
Dick Thurmond '76 (Marketing) has had a prolific career in the real estate business. Currently, he is the Chairman of the Board of Howard Hanna William E. Wood, a major real estate company and chairs and serves on several other boards of professional, civic, and educational institutions.