Clifton Foundation, Gallup donate $30M to UNL CBA for Don Clifton Strengths Institute

Released on 06/05/2015, at 12:01 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., June 5th, 2015 —
Don Clifton
Don Clifton

The Clifton Foundation and Gallup today announced a $30 million gift to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to establish the Don Clifton Strengths Institute to further the mission of the late Donald O. Clifton through a long-term partnership with the College of Business Administration.

This collaboration will also provide the world's largest Strengths Lab, housed in the new $84 million, 240,000-square-foot College of Business Administration building set to open in 2017.

"The University of Nebraska-Lincoln was the birthplace for Don Clifton's early strengths research, which later culminated into the now world-famous Clifton StrengthsFinder," said Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup. "We are proud to be creating this Clifton Strengths Institute as a model that can be replicated at universities around the world."

Pending approval of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, the Don Clifton Strengths Institute will support UNL in the early identification and accelerated development of thousands of future high-achieving leaders, business builders and gifted entrepreneurs. The focus will be on an individual's strengths, a mission to which Clifton dedicated his life.

"Don Clifton believed that nothing would change human development, and subsequently the world, more than if every living person knew their strengths and maximized them," said Connie Rath, president of the Clifton Foundation.

For two decades, Clifton was a popular instructor and researcher at UNL, where he first began his experimentation with strengths. He was chairman of Selection Research Inc. and later chairman of Gallup. Clifton was recognized with a Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association as the Father of Strengths-based Psychology.

His research led to the Clifton StrengthsFinder, a powerful online assessment released in 1999, which has helped more than 10 million people worldwide discover, understand and maximize their innate talents. The accompanying book, "StrengthsFinder 2.0," was named Amazon's No. 1 bestselling book in 2013 and 2014. Clifton StrengthsFinder is used in most of the Fortune 500 along with hundreds of schools and universities.

In making this gift, the donors are partnering with CBA, which is focused on preparing students to become high-achieving leaders who want to make an impact on organizations and the world.

The Don Clifton Strengths Institute will support the following programs and activities:

> Don Clifton Strengths Lab. Creation of the world's largest strengths lab that will provide enhanced training, education, workshops and coaching on strengths-based leadership. The lab will also support undergraduate degree programs in management and entrepreneurship for CBA students and a proposed minor in leadership available to all UNL students.

> Early identification and acceleration of Nebraska builders. Enable the early identification of high-achieving students with leadership and entrepreneurial abilities and offer enhanced training and opportunities for them.

> Research support. Support faculty and student research in strengths, leadership, management and other areas of business. It also makes available to faculty and students the Gallup World Poll and US Nightly tracking data for research and publication and will make possible joint conferences on strengths leadership with UNL faculty and Gallup.

> Survey methodology research graduate degree. The current degree program will continue to be supported by Gallup with the addition of Gallup World Poll access integrated into the program and will be administered through CBA.

"This partnership is a rare intersection of the business and academic community to create a collaborative relationship focused not only on the legacy of a great American, but a great philosophy adopted by leading companies, societies and educational institutes around the world," said Donde Plowman, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Dean of CBA. "The Don Clifton Strengths Institute is created with a focus on identifying and maximizing talent and to help Nebraska, the nation and the world to identify the next generation of high-achieving leaders, entrepreneurs and business builders."