Former owner of the New Orleans Hornets George Shinn donated $15 million to Lipscomb, university president Randy Lowry announced at the  2017 Imagine event Monday night.

The donation is the largest gift in school history and is earmarked as an investment in the College of Entertainment and the Arts, a new events center and other projects. In a prepared statement, Lowry said the gift marked a significant moment in Lipscomb University history.

“We are grateful to George Shinn and his commitment to this institution,” Lowry said.

The college will be renamed the Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts in appreciation for Shinn’s gift.

Lipscomb has previously hosted the George Shinn Foundation “Nashville Senior Christmas ShinnDig,” a holiday musical program for Middle Tennessee seniors. Shinn thanked donors for their support of Lipscomb and asked them to continue to give to the university.

“When I talk to young people, I like to encourage them that they can do anything with their lives that they want to, just like I’ve been blessed to do with my life,” Shinn said. “If you apply those same principles in reaching out to these young people, in all the things we can do through song and music right here in Music City, then these people can sing out stories of faith — changing people’s lives — and can do that right here from this wonderful university.”

A native of Kannapolis, North Carolina, Shinn made his fortune from for-profit trade schools, owning and managing 35 schools after once working as a janitor at Evans Business College.

Shinn owned the Hornets NBA team from its creation in 1988 to 2010, presiding over seven playoff appearances and the team’s relocation to New Orleans after the 2001-02 season.

His time as an NBA owner was not without controversy. Shinn was accused of kidnapping and raping a 28-year-old woman in 1997 — a grand jury declined to indict him — and two other women associated with the Hornets accused him of sexual harassment around the same time.

The 2017 Imagine event featured Magic and Cookie Johnson as speakers and a theme of “Nashville: Prosperity for All Corners of the City.”

Photo courtesy of Lipscomb University

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