Two years after graduating from the VCU Department of Communication Arts, Jim Gregory (B.F.A.’71) moved to New York and founded his own company. Over 40 years, his small advertising agency became a renowned branding consultation firm, garnering heavyweight clients such as Mastercard, Toshiba, Cisco Systems and AT&T.
Founding a company in the financial center of the world at age 23 was risky. “I used to laugh and say I had more guts than brains to do something like that,” he says. Gregory believes VCUarts emboldened him as a young entrepreneur, and, in turn, he is supporting the school to help future alumni.
In June 2017, Gregory donated $125,000 to endow the James R. Gregory Prize for Creative Entrepreneurship. Prizes are awarded annually to student proposals developed in the Center for the Creative Economy’s Creative Disruption class, judged by a panel of experienced entrepreneurs. The center, housed under VCUarts, uses experiential, collaborative learning opportunities to help students in creative disciplines pursue entrepreneurship and innovation.
The “Creative Disruption” class began in spring 2018 as part of the Creative Entrepreneurship certificate program. Gregory, who has served on the VCU Foundation Board of Trustees since 2017, wants to build excitement around the creative excellence of VCUarts; he believes that developing and shopping business ideas with their peers will instill confidence in emerging artists.