Mission & History
Fundamental to our belief in a free society is an economic system described as “free enterprise” which is dependent upon individual initiative. This encompasses social and ethical standards derived from this system and embodied in a democratic society.
The Kenan Institute fosters mutual understanding between members of the private sector, the academic community, and their government, and encourages cooperative efforts among these groups.
The Kenan Institute serves as a national center for scholarly research, joint exploration of issues, and course development with the principal theme of preservation, encouragement, and understanding of private enterprise.
The Kenan Institute is part of the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and draws on the School’s administrative and faculty resources. The Institute works in conjunction with affiliated centers to provide an ongoing forum for information and interaction between business, academia, and government.
It offers a number of programs, conferences, and seminars which bring together the business and academic communities at both the state and national levels. The Institute involves scholars and executives from across the nation who can work effectively together for the good of the free enterprise system.
Through its education and research activities, the Institute provides practical solutions to problems faced by society and fosters an appreciation of private enterprise in other academic fields from which future generations of business, academic, and government leaders will emerge.
Board of Governors Approves Establishment of the Institute"William University of North Carolina Board of Governors approves establishment of the institute within the business school at UNC-CH and names Rollie Tillman Jr., UNC Vice Chancellor for University relations and KFBS marketing professor, as the director. The first Board of Trustees meeting is held in November.1983
William R. Kenan Jr. Fund is Established"William R. Kenan Jr. Fund is established to support a variety of initiatives, including the development of an institute of private enterprise, the brainchild of Frank Hawkins Kenan.1985
Institute ProgramsInitial Institute programs focus on research, executives-in-residence (including Wendy's restaurant founder Dave Thomas), enterprise fellows, management seminars and an association of venture founders1986
Kenan Center DedicatedKenan Center dedicated as home to the Institute (now named the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise) and William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust and Funds (shown here at the dedication are Governor James Martin, UNC Chancellor Christopher Fordham III and Frank Kenan).1987
IncInstitute becomes home to the Institute of American Entrepreneurs' Entrepreneur of the Year Hall of Fame.1988
John D. Kasarda Named DirectorJohn D. Kasarda, professor and chair of the UNC's Department of Sociology, named director; Tillman becomes chairman of the board of trustees. The Institute mission broadens to include international activities, including the placement of MBAs in private enterprises in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, an international executive speaker series, and policy research. Global TransPark concept develops from research on new manufacturing strategies, aviation infrastructure and logistics.1990
Citibank International Fellows ProgramCitibank International Fellows Program funded, laying groundwork for the Institute's Asia presence that eventually develops into Kenan Institute Asia. Also, the institute begins $1 million Federal Aviation Administration study of airport logistics facilities.1991
Urban Enterprise Corps & U.S.-Thailand Development PartnershipUrban Enterprise Corps established, which places MBA graduates in minority- and women-owned businesses and community economic development organizations. U.S.-Thailand Development Partnership (predecessor to Kenan Institute Asia) launches in Bangkok with $10 million U.S. Agency for International Development grant. The partnership supports private enterprise development in Thailand and develops Kenan-Flagler programs in the region. The Institute wins first U.S. Department of Education grant to provide curricula and research programs in international business, area studies and foreign languages.1993
Kenan Institute AsiaKenan Institute Asia forms from the U.S.-Thailand Development Partnership1994
Urban Investment Strategies CenterThe Institute's Urban Investment Strategies Center opens with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, J. P. Morgan Bank, Chase Manhattan Bank and Citibank. Also, Kenan Institute Asia endowed at $11.65 million by U.S. Agency for International Development, The Royal Thai Government, and the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust.1996
Center for Logistics and Digital StrategyKenan Institute Center for Logistics and Digital Strategy established and forms Global Logistics Research Initiative, a virtual consortium of 12 research institutes and universities in North America, Europe, and Asia conducting coordinated work in global logistics. Also, North Carolina Center for World Languages and Cultures joins the Institute as an affiliate; changes name to North Carolina Global Center and launches signature Working Languages program.1997
Kenan Institute AsiaKenan Institute Asia begins Accelerating Economic Recovery in Asia (AERA) Program with $18 million USAID funding.1999
MBA Enterprise CorpsMBA Enterprise Corps concludes successful decade as an institute program with over 600 corps members; merges with Washington, D.C.-based Citizens Democracy Corps2000
Center for Air CommerceCenter for Air Commerce Studies is launched.2001
Carolina Entrepreneurial InitiativeCarolina Entrepreneurial Initiative receives major funding from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.2004
Tsunami Recovery Action InitiativeTsunami Recovery Action Initiative, a joint effort of the institute and Kenan Institute Asia, begins with major funding from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Trust.2005
NCGrowthThe Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise launches NCGrowth with funding provided by the Federal Economic Development Administration. NCGrowth’s mission is to support businesses in creating good jobs and to help communities create equitable opportunities for their people. 2012
Joseph DeSimoneProfessor DeSimone named director of the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, part of UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School. 2012
Technology Commercialization CarolinaThe Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise launches Technology Commercialization Carolina (TCC) which supports North Carolina innovators and inventors through commercialization and entrepreneurship training, early-stage venture launch support and funding. 2015
Greg BrownGregory W. Brown named director of the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School. Brown is a professor of finance and a Sarah Graham Kenan Distinguished Scholar at UNC Kenan-Flagler.2015
"I believe that all the freedoms we enjoy are related to free enterprise. If you neglect that, we'll lose the others."
Frank Hawkins Kenan
Kenan Institute Director Greg Brown Featured on Carolina Business Review
Greg Brown joined former NC Secretary of Commerce John Skvarla; Terry Keating, executive vice president of Accord Financial; and show host Chris William for an end-of-year, Carolinas-centric look at tax reform, the urban-rural divide, foreign trade, and economic development, among other topics. The show aired on PBS stations in North and South Carolina in December. Read More
Responding to Migration Dividends
We all know that North Carolina is a migration magnet. But just who’s moving into – and out of – the state? And what’s the impact on North Carolina’s economy and infrastructure? Jim Johnson, director of education, aging and economic development initiatives for the Kenan Institute, and Allan Parnell, vice president of the Cedar Institute for Sustainable Communities in Mebane, NC, go in search of answers. Read More
Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise Hosts 2018 Investment Outlook Forum
On Thursday, December 14, leaders in public finance, private equity, venture capital, hedge funds and investment management convened at the Kenan Center in Chapel Hill to discuss 2018 investment challenges and opportunities. The 2018 Investment Outlook forum was sponsored by the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. Read More
MBA Kenan Scholars Present Culmination of Their Research
The scholars presented summaries of their research to a full room at the Kenan Center on Wednesday, December 6. In all, audience members learned about nine projects, from measuring the cost of renewable energy options to determining whether a farm machinery company’s products are suited to the agricultural environment of Zambia. Read More
Shhh! It’s a Secret!
Fifteen North Carolina city, county, and state entities are vying with more than 230 communities in the U.S. and Canada to be the home of Amazon’s second headquarters. But bidders in the state are keeping mum about the details of their bids, saying that releasing data could jeopardize their competitiveness. One person who is talking is Brent Lane, economic strategist for the Center for Competitive Economies. Read More