Ohio State University will establish a new on-campus center and interdisciplinary program focused on software innovation thanks to a record-setting $110 million donation.
The donation, gifted from the Timashev Family Foundation, was announced by trustees at Thursday afternoon’s full board of trustees meeting. It is the largest single gift in Ohio State history.
The Center for Software Innovation will be a new hub within the West Campus Innovation District, now called Carmenton, where students will learn about the intersections of software innovation, product management, entrepreneurship, sales and marketing.
Ratmir Timashev, an Ohio State alumnus, said the donation was a full-circle moment for him. He earned his master’s degree in chemical physics at Ohio State in 1996 and went on to build software and computer businesses in Columbus. Timashev’s companies — Aelita Software and Veeam — were leaders in the tech world before they were acquired by Quest Software and Insight Partners, respectively.
“Over 30 years ago, I was the young student with big dreams, and it was the support of my OSU mentors and fellow students who gave me the opportunities to do what I’ve been able to do,” Timashev said. “I’m humbled to support the many talented Buckeye students and the future of this great university, to scale and soar even further.”
Timashev received three standing ovations from trustees and university executives at Thursday’s board meeting. He described the center as a multi-pronged endeavor that would make Columbus “the new high-tech mecca.”
The Center for Software Innovation will create a partnership between the College of Engineering, Fisher College of Business and other stakeholders across the country and region. Academic programs will begin as early as this fall.
The donation will fund professors teaching software innovation, offer student scholarships and internships, and create an incubator program to support students and faculty. Timashev’s donation also provides initial funding for the center to be housed on two floors of an entrepreneurship and research-focused building in Carmenton.
Timashev stressed the importance of having a center like this at Ohio State.
“Every business is a software business … all the money in the next 50 years will be made from software,” he said.
This gift isn’t the first Ohio State has received from the Timashevs and their endeavors.
In 2020, the Timashevs gave $17 million for the Timashev Family Music Building, which opened its doors to students in October 2022. Veeam, a software company Timashev founded, gave $5 million to the OSU College of Arts and Sciences in 2016 to support student scholarships , teaching and research in data analytics and chemical physics.
“Just like the university’s emerging arts district is flourishing with the Timashev Family Music Building, we’re thrilled by the prospect of the Center for Software Innovation being at the heart of OSU’s vision to make Columbus the epicenter of the digital world for innovation and entrepreneurship ,” Timashev said.
Hiroyuki Fujita, chair of the Ohio State board of trustees, said the center will offer more pathways for students to explore careers and research in an ever-changing digital economy.
President Kristina M. Johnson gave Timashev, his wife, Angela; and his family an emotional thank you for their gift.
“This historic gift will be transformational for our students, faculty and the entire heartland and beyond,” Johnson said. “(Timashev) embodies the American Dream — study and work hard, become successful and give back to those that support you along the way.”
Timashev said the key to building successful technology companies is all about being in the right place at the right time.
“This is the right place: Ohio State, Columbus, the Midwest. This is the right time,” he said.
Sheridan Hendrix is a higher education reporter for The Columbus Dispatch. Sign up for her Mobile Newsroom newsletter here and Extra Credit, her education newsletter, here.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State grad donates record-setting $110M for software center