Carl J. Schramm, who 10 years ago left a career in health-care and insurance consulting to take over the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, has stepped down as president, the philanthropy announced today.
The $1.8-billion foundation, which supports entrepreneurship, said Mr. Schramm was leaving “in order to return to scholarship and business.”
Benno C. Schmidt Jr., a foundation trustee and former president of Yale University, will serve as interim chief executive.
Mr. Schramm’s early years at the foundation were marked by controversy.
He split with some board members and past foundation presidents over how much of the fund’s giving should focus on its home city of Kansas City, Mo.
Mr. Schramm wanted the fund to incubate entrepreneurship programs in Kansas City that could expand nationally; critics saw that approach as an abandonment of the Midwestern city and a misreading of the founder’s wishes. Three trustees resigned in 2003 after voting against a measure to retain Mr. Schramm.
The Missouri Attorney General opened an investigation into the philanthropy that same year after some trustees accused the foundation of offering a paid consulting position to a departing board member on the eve of the vote. The attorney general ultimately cleared the Kauffman foundation of any wrongdoing but said it should more clearly state its commitment to Kansas City and strengthen its ethics policies.
During his tenure, Mr. Schramm reshaped the foundation’s giving.
He narrowed the fund’s youth programs to focus on education, particularly in the math and sciences; expanded its support of academic research on entrepreneurship; revamped the foundation’s signature scholarship program; and started a Global Entrepreneurship Week to celebrate start-up companies around the world.
“His service has expanded the influence of the Kauffman Foundation to have a truly global impact on the appreciation and development of entrepreneurship,” said Tom McDonnell, board chairman, in a statement announcing Mr. Schramm’s departure.