In 2007, the E. J. Ourso College of Business received a $4 million donation from LSU alumni Emmet and Toni Stephenson to redefine the mission of the Entrepreneurship Institute. The institute was renamed the Emmet and Toni Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute in honor of the couple's generous donation, which is among one of the largest ever to LSU.
"LSU can move to the top ranks of universities in the US, and we want to help ... $4 million goes to the Entrepreneurship Institute to grow and enhance entrepreneurship education to create new business and new jobs in the Gulf South."
In 2017, through another gift of $6 million by the couple, the Department of Information Systems & Decision Sciences was renamed the Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship & Information Systems (SDEIS) and introduced a new bachelor of science in entrepreneurship. The degree must be paired with another BS degree from any college on campus as part of a joint-degree.
Emmet Stephenson is the founder and senior partner of Stephenson Ventures, a private equity firm. He also served as a director of Danaher Corporation for 22 years and is the retired chairman of StarTek Inc. Stephenson graduated magna cum laude from LSU with a bachelor of science from the then-College of Business Administration in 1967 and was ranked first in his graduating class. In his senior year, he served as president of the LSU College of Business. He also graduated with an MBA from Harvard Business School and received the Ralph Thomas Sayles Fellowship in Investments. At LSU, he was inducted into the LSU Alumni Association Hall of Distinction in 2006, the LSU Kappa Sigma Hall of Distinction in 2005, the E. J. Ourso College of Business Hall of Distinction in 1998, and was a speaker in the Flores MBA Distinguished Speaker Series in 1999. Stephenson previously served as president of the Harvard Business School Alumni Association and received the Albert Einstein Technology Medal in 1999.
Toni Stephenson is the founder and president of General Communications, Inc. She was publisher of Law Enforcement Product News and Public Safety Product News and was a founder and director of Charter Bank and Trust. She earned a bachelor of science from LSU in 1967, where she served on the student council, and completed the Harvard Business School Owner/President Management Program in 1990. She served as president of the Children’s Hospital Association of Volunteers, director of the Children’s Hospital, director of Anchor Center for Blind Children, and director of St. Joseph’s Hospital. Additionally, she was inducted into the LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business Hall of Distinction in 2013.
Both Emmet and Toni Stephenson served on the Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisors for five years and are recognized in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World. They have been married for more than 50 years and have one daughter.