Academics and Research

$500,000 gift promotes new focus on Israel at Daniels College of Business

Michael and Kathy Azeez, alumni of DU’s Daniels College of Business, see Israel as a booming center for innovation and business. The couple recently donated $500,000 to fund two major projects at the business school that they hope will inspire students through travel to the country and programs that capture Israel’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Part of the gift will be used to fund student and faculty travel to Israel as part of the college’s new MBA program, which emphasizes global challenges. Students will meet with and learn from startup businesses in the country.

“Michael and Kathy Azeez have a vision that connects the state of Colorado to the state of Israel through a start-up mentality,” says Daniels Professor Kerry Plemmons, who has traveled to Israel with the MBA program. “Israel has become a wonderful hub for creativity and commerce. By taking Daniels students to Israel, the Azeezes’ generosity created bonds that start with business and then go far beyond to friendships and partnerships. It is quite amazing to see the transformation that happens when students study Israeli commerce, culture and history.”

The other half of the gift allows the Daniels College to substantially intensify programming around Israel. The college plans to host two conferences centered on entrepreneurship — one held in Colorado and one in Israel. The goal is to create a platform for an exchange of ideas and business opportunities among community members, businesses, startups and entrepreneurs in Israel and Colorado. The conferences also will give students opportunities to engage in cross-disciplinary work through projects such as pitch competitions, hackathons and CEO bullpens.

“We are so grateful for the generosity of Michael and Kathy,” says Daniels College Dean Brent Chrite. “This gift will help us expand on our global and experiential opportunities for students. They are a critical component of the premier education at Daniels.”

The Azeezes have supported scholarship funds and global opportunities for students at the Daniels College of Business over the past six years. Michael Azeez (BSBA ’80) is a private investor in technology companies and serves on several for-profit and nonprofit boards. He also is the managing partner at Vermeil Wines. Kathy Azeez (BSBA ’80) is the owner of Unique Quilt Patterns.

“Kathy and I look forward to expanding the opportunities for DU students to learn more about the country of Israel, including its cultural and business attributes,” Michael Azeez says. “There have been many successful companies and technology developments created in the country. It’s a fantastic opportunity to see and experience the country with their own eyes.”


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