DU, VF Foundation Partnership Brings Outdoor Leadership Program to Life

The University of Denver, in partnership with VF Corp.’s VF Foundation, announced a new outdoor industry-themed curriculum on Monday with the Leadership in Outdoor Recreation Industry program.

The VF Foundation is planning more than $3 million in grants over the next three years, according to company officials.

Outerwear company VF Corp. (NYSE: VFC) is based in Denver.

The interdisciplinary program offers courses from three DU departments: Daniels College of Business, Sturm College of Law, and Josef Korbel School of International Studies. One of the main goals of the program is to increase diversity in the outdoor industry. It will offer two 16-credit graduate certificates beginning in 2023, to help meet the demand for outdoor-specific labor in the United States.

“So today’s announcement – along with a host of other initiatives that VF and our foundations are supporting – demonstrates that we’re serious about our commitment and we’re serious about opportunities to help our industry. to create a more inclusive culture, to attract a more diverse employee base, to help us strengthen our engagement around the world with the consumers we serve,” CEO Steve Rendle said in his speech Monday.

Rendle is also chairman and president of the company, as well as chairman of the board of directors of the VF Foundation. He said the program has been in the works since 2020.

VF offers various outdoor brands including Vans, Timberland, Smartwool, Dickies, etc.

The outdoor industry accounted for 1.8% ($374.3 billion) of the nation’s GDP in 2020, according to a report by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Courses will be taught online to ensure access for outdoor industry professionals. It will include financial models, marketing, sustainability, land use and access legal issues, supply chain, public policy, and more. Networking opportunities will also be provided to ensure connections with like-minded people, according to Dean Vivek Choudhury.

AU Chancellor Jeremy Haefner said they had a “deep sense of shared values” with VF and shared the company’s commitment.

“True, real partnerships have certain characteristics,” Haefner said. “It’s passion, commitment, dedication and perseverance [that] means so much to true partnership and I know from working with the VF Corporation and the VF Foundation over the past few years that we share this passion in so many ways.

Kevin E. Boling