Academics, Alumni, Campus wide, College of Business, Giving

Multimillion-dollar gift establishes Hans A. Nielsen College of Business at CSU

By Jenna Johnson | January 20, 2022

Charleston Southern University’s Board of Trustees approved the naming of its business school after receiving a $2 million dollar commitment from the Nielsen family. The gift, from alumnus Roger Nielsen and his wife, Joyce, and their children, Brian and Kristen, is in honor of Roger’s father, Hans A. Nielsen.  

The Nielsen family committed a $2 million gift to CSU. Pictured (Left to right) are Dr. David Palmer, dean; David Baggs, VP of development; Dr. Dondi Costin, CSU president; and the Nielsens–Roger, Brian, Joyce, and Kristen. Photo provided

“Roger and his family have extended their legacy as difference makers by investing their resources to support generations of CSU students following in Roger’s footsteps,” President Dondi Costin said. “The Nielsens’ pace-setting gift will reap eternal dividends as it enables the Hans A. Nielsen College of Business to recruit, develop, and graduate savvy servant leaders who live significant lives—exactly like the family for which the business college is named.” 

The Nielsen family are long-time supporters of the university, including CSU Athletics and the College of Business. In 2018, Roger Nielsen, a 1974 Baptist College at Charleston grad and former Buccaneer catcher, committed $500,000 to CSU’s baseball program. The ballpark was named Nielsen Field to honor the family’s altruism. 

Dr. David Palmer, dean of the Hans A. Nielsen College of Business, said this gift will allow the business school to greatly improve its external relevance and internal excellence.  

“The generosity and vision of the Nielsens will aid us in building upon our brand in the global education community,” Palmer said. “Improved presence and visibility require more faculty research, conference presentations, publications, and service in the business learning community. The gift will also improve excellence through better teaching, online learning, and physical assets. Ultimately, it provides a differentiated brand for our business alumni in the years to come.” 

Roger Nielsen, pictured signing the monetary commitment to CSU, is a 1974 graduate and baseball alumnus. Photo provided

The Nielsens never sought recognition for previous support of CSU. The building of the Singleton Baseball Complex changed that. The baseball alum felt inspired by Buccaneer baseball player Chris Singleton’s “Love is stronger than hate” message delivered worldwide only one day following the Emanuel 9 tragedy. Roger watched Singleton, then a rising sophomore, with amazement. It was that moment that led him to contribute to the athletic program and CSU on a grander scale.  

Roger, who earned an accounting degree within the business school, credits his time at CSU for the life he has now. He built a successful business career as the owner of Philadelphia-based Abbey Color Incorporated, and he recently passed the torch to his children, Brian Nielsen, CEO, and Dr. Kristen Nielsen Donnelly, COO.  

“Through trials and tribulations, we’ve always come out on top,” Roger said of he and his family’s success in business. “We were taught to create wealth, not accumulate it. It is our family’s prayer that this naming of the College of Business will assist in bringing opportunities to the university that will provide a revenue stream for not only the university, but for staff, faculty and students as well. Our family is committed to not only provide money to this effort but to also provide sweat equity to make the Nielsen College of Business at CSU known locally, within the state, nationally, and eventually worldwide as an excellent place to experience the tangible efforts and subsequent rewards of participating in God’s Kingdom.” 

Past anonymous gifts and contributions from the Nielsens have allowed the business school to grow its Center for Personal Financial Management (CPFM) and offer new opportunities for students. Donnelly, through the company’s newest division, Abbey Research, partnered with the business school in 2020 to create the Community Research Institute. Its purpose is to provide evidence-based solutions to the community through projects spearheaded by Abbey Research and executed by Charleston Southern students and faculty.   

Donnelly’s involvement in the education sector and with CSU students and faculty has allowed her an inside look on the significance of philanthropy at this level. “There is something special happening in North Charleston, South Carolina, and really what it comes down to is that we like to be a part of good things happening. [The College of Business] is something special, and we are proud to put our name on it.” 

Palmer added, “We are extremely excited about the Nielsens’ confidence in and support of the mission of CSU and the College of Business. Because of the Nielsen family, we can better accomplish our mission to prepare our Buccaneer business grads for purpose-filled lives.” 

The Hans A. Nielsen College of Business will host a celebration later this spring in honor of the Nielsen family and naming of the college. The Nielsens’ commitment supports CSU’s Limitless Campaign. For more information about Limitless, or to learn how you may support the Nielsen College of Business and CSU, please contact the Office of Development at  

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