History and Benefactors
The Gilliam Center was established in August 2007, thanks to a generous gift from Leslie ('82) and Richard Gilliam.
“My JMU degree has served me well in life, and Richard and I are happy to support JMU as a vital educational resource for today’s young people. We are proud to partner with James Madison University’s College of Business to empower tomorrow’s business leaders to make the best possible decisions.” -Leslie Gilliam
The center’s original mission was to foster, develop, and assist current and future business leaders in creating and improving ethical, effective, and sustainable organizational cultures and decision-making climates through curriculum development, knowledge accumulation and dissemination activities, and provision of resources.
In 2012, the Gilliams made another significant gift to the center to expand its impact to include a focus on free enterprise. At that time, the Gilliam Center was renamed the Gilliam Center for Free Enterprise and Ethical Leadership.
The Gilliams are strong believers in the merits of the free enterprise system of capitalism, and the expanded center has goals that include helping students develop an informed appreciation for – and ultimately become champions of – free enterprise systems globally.
A central value that supports this initiative is a desire to educate students on the liberties and principles outlined in the Founding documents (Constitution and Bill of Rights) where the principles of America’s Founders continue to undergird a free society.
The expanded center provides grants to students and faculty members for free enterprise and ethical leadership research and curriculum development, brings influential speakers to campus, supports related student organizations and book clubs, and provides other learning and professional development activities.