Huntsman gives USU business school $26 million

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 4 2007 12:20 a.m. MST

Jon M. Huntsman Sr. kisses his wife, Karen, at a luncheon announcing their donation of $26 million to USU Monday.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News

LOGAN — Utah State University hopes to become more competitive after accepting its largest-ever donation of $26 million from Jon M. Huntsman Sr., also naming the school of business after the successful entrepreneur and philanthropist.

The Jon M. Huntsman School of Business will focus on building ethical leadership and entrepreneurship among its faculty and student enrollment, enhancing their global vision and developing financial and quantitative analysis programs, a prominent focus for Huntsman, said Douglas Anderson, dean of USU's business school.

"The Huntsman money is not intended for bricks and mortar," he said, noting that the George S. Eccles Business Building — housed within the Huntsman School of Business — is slated for summer renovation.

The announcement was made Monday afternoon to more than 500 of Huntsman's friends and family, including leaders in higher education as well as lawmakers and government officials, gathered at the Taggart Student Center at USU. President Boyd K. Packer, a general authority in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and USU alumnus, encouraged those who distribute the generous donation to remember the students.

"Cause it to be aimed at the student, the ever-valuable student," he said. "Its influence is best measured in the lives of those who come here to study."

One million dollars of the donation will be set aside to provide scholarships to students in order to "attract the best in the region," Anderson said. The gift comes at the heels of more than $300 million the Huntsman family has already invested in education.

Huntsman previously funded USU's Huntsman Environmental Research Center and the David B. Haight Alumni Center. Earlier this year, he contributed $850,000 to fund 13 four-year scholarships for students from Armenia to attend USU. He has long had ties to Armenia, areas of which were devastated by an earthquake in 1988.

"This gift has given the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business an opportunity to achieve its own distinct place among the finest schools in the country," said USU President Stan Albrecht. The Logan school plans to foster a partnership with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Huntsman's alma mater as well as the recipient of a $40 million gift from Huntsman in 1997, used to build the international studies program there.

Former Wharton Dean Thomas P. Garrity said USU now has the great privilege of not only garnering the Huntsman name, but the values of a man who is "known for his vision, integrity and humanity."

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. told the crowd that his father has "looked to this day for a very, very long time." He said students need not only the rigor of classroom study, but role models to pattern their lives after.

"I am thrilled that my father will bring priorities to this school that he has long stood for," he said. A strong sense of ethics, Gov. Huntsman said, is what has helped his father to be successful in business. "Nowhere is this more important than in the business community."

Anderson said the gift could not have come at a better time.

"The college of business has become a professional school of distinction, a career accelerator for our students, and an engine of growth for the state and region," he said. "Jon and Karen Huntsman are investing in this school at a time when we have tremendous momentum and our relationship with them can only accelerate our progress. The Huntsman name stands for excellence and integrity. We are proud to have their name linked with ours."

Not since 1916 has the university had so many state and religious leaders on campus, Anderson said. Monday's announcement not only brought President Packer, but also Elders Joseph B. Wirthlin and M. Russell Ballard and USU alumnus Elder L. Tom Perry, all of whom are members of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve.

"Truly this school of business, on this beautiful and unique campus, should strive to teach not only the latest, state-of-the-art business practices, but the implication of ethics in all of its forms, to ensure that each graduate is a man or woman of unquestioned integrity," Huntsman Sr. said. In addition to ethical instruction, he hopes his namesake college teaches and leaves students with a sincere respect for human dignity.

The USU College of Business graduated eight students at its first commencement in 1894. It currently offers 13 undergraduate majors, eight master's degrees and two doctorate degree programs. Enrollment for the college includes 16 doctoral students, 296 master's students and 1,545 undergraduates.

"At the end of the day, our character, together with our charity, will determine our destiny," Huntsman Sr. said. Such traits, he said, will be important both at the forefront of the business world and in each individual life.

Recent big gifts to schools

• $26 million, Jon M. Huntsman Sr., to Utah State University for the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.

• $20 million, family of Wallace Woodbury, to Utah Valley State College business school — to be named the Woodbury School of Business.

• $15 million, Marc and Debbie Bingham, to USU's Uintah Basin campus for an Entrepreneurship and Energy Resource Center.

• $20 million, ALSAM Foundation, to the University of Utah College of Pharmacy, for a building to be named after L.S. "Sam" Skaggs.


E-mail: wleonard@desnews.com

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