Industrialist Jon M. Huntsman has contributed $40 million to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, reportedly the largest single gift ever given to a business school.

Huntsman, who earned an undergraduate degree from Wharton in 1959, has specified that the school may use the gift at its discretion."The Huntsman family is truly one of the great `Penn' families," said University of Pennsylvania President Judith Rodin.

"This family is a model of generosity and an inspiration to all of us. We are deeply grateful for their friendship and for this gift, which will have an enormous impact on the educational programs, the research, the faculty and students of the Wharton School. It will support Wharton's global vision, which is such an integral part of Agenda for Excellence, the university's strategic vision for the future."

Huntsman serves on the Wharton School's Board of Overseers and is formerly a member of the University of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees. He received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the university in 1996. In addition, he was co-chairman of the University Campaign for Penn. He was featured speaker at the Wharton MBA commencement and university baccalaureate in 1996.

At a recent meeting of the school's Boa of Overseers, Huntsman credited Wharton School for helping him build his business from the ground up.

"It is the place that provided a balanced education to make us into what we are today. We can never forget those roots and the critical and meaningful role they have played in our lives," Huntsman said.

The University of Pennsylvania is a family affair for the Huntsmans. Two sons, Jon Jr. and David, are Penn graduates. Jon Jr. is a member of the University of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees.

Jon M. Huntsman's brother, A. Blaine Huntsman, earned a doctorate degree from Wharton in 1968. In the fall, Huntsman's son, Paul, will start studies toward a master's degree in business administration.

Two of Jon M. Huntsman's sons-in-law, Richard Durham and Jim Huffman, also earned degrees from Wharton.

"This is an extraordinary commitment and a real tribute to the tremendous generosity of Jon Huntsman and his family," said Thomas P. Gerrity, dean of the Wharton School.

"Jon is one of the most exceptional business leaders of our time whose values, ideals, public service and philanthropy make him a shining example for all of our thousands of Wharton students that we send out into leadership positions around the world."

In January 1997, Huntsman contributed $10 million to Wharton and the School of Arts and Sciences of the University of Pennsylvania to endow an undergraduate program in international studies and business.

Huntsman is chairman and chief executive officer of Huntsman Corp., the largest privately held chemical company in the United States, with revenues in excess of $5 billion.

Based in Salt Lake City, Huntsman oversees operations at 81 sites worldwide and employs more than 10,000 people. In 1995, Huntsman donated $100 million to the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah.

Huntsman and his wife, Karen Haight Huntsman, have donated more than $200 million to various causes worldwide.