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USF expands and names Center for Supply Chain Management for $5 million donor Monica Wooden

MercuryGate International co-founder and former CEO Monica Wooden speaks to a crowd Monday at the University of South Florida College of Business, to which she has donated $5 million to support research and students focusing on supply chain management. RICHARD DANIELSON | Times
Published Apr. 8

TAMPA — Six years ago, the University of South Florida had one professor working in the field of supply chain management — the trillion-dollar business of moving goods, money and information around the globe — but in an economy being reshaped by the likes of Amazon, that's changing.

And it's about to change even faster thanks to a $5 million donation from Monica Wooden, the co-founder of a transportation management software company that recently sold for more than $400 million.

USF's Muma College of Business is naming its Center for Supply Chain Management & Sustainability for Wooden, 59, who served as CEO of North Carolina-based MercuryGate International even though she is arguably better known around the Tampa Bay area for her work as the president of the New Tampa Little League.

"It really is an honor, and it feels good to give back," Wooden told a crowd of several hundred at the College of Business on Monday.

"What I really want to see is USF to become very, very strong and recognized as a supply chain and logistics leader in curriculum, thought leadership and research, on a par with folks like Georgia Tech, Penn State and Ohio State," she said in an interview later. "I watched them build this program, and I think they built it brick by brick. It's a very strong program."

With 90 percent of everything everywhere being shipped, she said, "we need so many employees in this field." The U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics predicts that logistics jobs will expand by 7 percent within the next 10 years. Salaries for entry-level jobs in supply chain management averaged $68,000 a year in Florida in 2017, and more than than nationwide.

Wooden's donation will establish an endowed fund to support scholarships, research and operations at the center, which employs five faculty members, and provide a professorship to support a distinguished faculty member.

USF also plans to begin offering an undergraduate major and a master's degree in supply chain management, creating "new paths for our students," and delivering "a dramatic impact on USF's role in preparing tomorrow's business leaders," USF Foundation CEO Joel Momberg said.

With her gift Wooden is the latest woman — following Pam Muma, Kate Tiedemann, Ellen Cotton and Lynn Pippenger — to support business education at USF with what business school dean Moez Limayem described as transformational donations. Since 2015, MercuryGate has donated transportation software licenses to USF for classroom use, and provided in-kind support, internships and job opportunities for students.

MercuryGate has about 350 employees, half of them in Cary, N.C., about 400 customers and $75 million in annual revenues. Wooden co-founded the company in 2000 after IBM, where she used to work, got out of the business of developing applications software. In the Tampa Bay area, its clients include Jabil in St. Petersburg and BlueGrace Logistics in Tampa.

In August, California investment firm Summit Partners purchased MercuryGate. Wooden said the transaction created 40 millionaires among family and friends who had invested in MercuryGate early, as well as employees who had received stock options.

Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

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