GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY  Banco Santander Executive Chairman Ana Botín and University President John J. DeGioia signed an agreement on a $2 million, 5-year social economy initiative, entailing annual roundtables and a think tank.
Banco Santander Executive Chairman Ana Botín and University President John J. DeGioia signed an agreement on a $2 million, 5-year social economy initiative, entailing annual roundtables and a think tank.

Banco Santander, the Eurozone’s largest bank, has pledged $2 million to Georgetown University to fund a new social economy initiative.

Banco Santander Executive Chairman Ana Botín and University President John J. DeGioia signed a memorandum of understanding to launch the initiative April 7.

The partnership is set to last five years, with an annual donation of $400,000. Although details are yet to be finalized, the new initiative will include yearly faculty roundtables on social economic issues, as well as a student think tank composed of 24 students from around the world.

“We are deeply grateful to Ana Botín and the leadership of the Santander Group, for their commitment to the social economy and their leadership on some of today’s most pressing socioeconomic challenges,” DeGioia said in a press release. “Our community looks forward to deepening our partnership and developing this new initiative together in the weeks ahead.”

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Norberto Grzywacz will lead the social economy initiative for the duration of the partnership with Santander. Undergraduates will potentially be able to participate in the partnership pending approval from Santander, according to Grzywacz.

“I believe that all those programs, even if they are graduate programs, they will have a strong impact in undergraduate life because they will be creating new mechanisms in which undergrads will be involved in research,” Grzywacz said.

The initiative will engage the academic community at both a local and global level, according to Grzywacz.

The local level of engagement will be made up of the roundtables, which will bring together Georgetown faculty, banking professionals and banking customers to discuss social banking, social financing and responsible banking. The university will hold three roundtables a year on varying topics.

“The point is to create new ideas that will have social benefit from a financial point of view,” Grzywacz said. “So every year there will be a report, and the report will propose those ideas. New knowledge will hopefully be created.”

The student think tank will form the global level of the new initiative and will engage the 24 participating students in projects devoted to bettering the social impact of banking. Students from across the world will apply to the think tank, though Grzywacz said that there will almost certainly be a number of Georgetown students in the group. Each year the student participants will compete to come up with new ideas for the banking world and the winning proposal will be granted funds from Santander to implement their project.

“We are hopeful that this new initiative on social economy will yield groundbreaking results,” Eduardo Garrido, Director of Santander Universities U.S. wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Renowned international scholars and experts will convene at Georgetown to conduct research and propose solutions to pressing global challenges.”

Santander Universities, the division of Banco Santander that partners with higher education institutions, currently has agreements with almost 1,200 other universities from around the world and has given out more than $1.3 billion in funding to schools since its founding in 1996.

“Santander believes that Georgetown University is especially suited to lead this new initiative on the social economy given its worldwide leadership in social issues, public and private management, and international affairs,” Garrido wrote.

Santander’s newly announced partnership with Georgetown builds off of previous collaboration between the two entities that began in 2007 when a digital magazine on “Globalization, Competiveness and Governance” was launched. The magazine was sponsored by Universia, a network of 1,250 universities that Santander has sponsored since 2000, according to Garrido.

“Georgetown has enjoyed a terrific relationship with Santander, through, for almost 10 years through the publication of the Journal of Globalization, Competitiveness and Governability,” Office of the President Chief of Staff Joseph Ferrara wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We look forward to this new opportunity to explore further work together.”

Additionally, Botín, Santander’s chief executive, was a former member on Georgetown’s board of directors.

Grzywacz said that he is hopeful that the partnership with Santander will lay the groundwork for permanent programs and classes in the arena of social banking.

“We might have educational programs that are permanent that will have as their subjects these issues so that students will be able to come here, even after five years,” Grzywacz said. “They can take courses and even get degrees in these kinds of subjects.”

Geared wrote that while the initial partnership has a duration of five years, there is a possibility for Santander and Georgetown to renew the relationship.

“I think Santander has a vision, and we will follow that vision,” Grzywacz said. “But we will implement this with Georgetown’s strengths.”

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