The financial weather has been stormy, but the clouds aren’t all dark.
Douglas D. Anderson
It is true that dark headlines have been coming daily for months now. The talk of layoffs, cutbacks, financial meltdowns, recession and a faltering economy has become our daily diet.
Utah State University has not been immune to such bad news. Budget cuts in the millions have already been made, and we know more will be expected in fiscal year 2009 – 2010.
At the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business we are subjecting each and every program and priority to a serious review. But we have already come up with one conclusion that will not change. We will move forward, not fall backward during this challenging time.
Shortly after I started as dean, we decided that our focus would center on developing ethical leaders, inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit within each of our students and helping them gain a global vision of what they could accomplish. In 2007, we decided to add a fourth focus. We want to be sure our students develop mastery in critical thinking skills; we have called this pillar “analytical rigor.”
We see our current economic challenge as an opportunity to refine our focus and to be sure we are investing in the things that will benefit our students most. We are confident the choices we make now will enable us to emerge from this downturn as a business school that is more innovative and effective than it ever was before. We owe that much to the students we now serve and to the students we will guide tomorrow – and we owe it to you, our alumni and friends, who provide us such valued support.
With this issue of the Huntsman Alumni Magazine we intend to part these dark economic clouds for a few moments and shine some light on some of the good things that our students and alumni are doing. For example, on page 2, you can read about how our Field Studies program sent a team of students to Cairo, Egypt, to develop vital training materials for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It was an unusual experience that tested our students in all four areas. You’ll be proud to read how they developed more than 1,200 pages of instructional material in a changing, complex and challenging international situation.
You can also read about some of the impressive things our students are accomplishing as they serve internships in Belgium, Brazil, China, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Peru and Sweden. One of our students who worked in Germany, Josh Kerkmann, started out with an assignment to organize business cards. By the time he left, his advice was being sought out by coworkers who grew to respect what he brought to the table. In fact, one of his coworkers was so impressed with Josh that he named his newborn son after him.
While many universities have a healthy supply of professors who can talk about going green and developing alternative power sources, you will read about how two of our professors, Drs. Edwin Stafford and Cathy Hartman, played pivotal roles in the launching of a new wind plant in Spanish Fork, Utah. And, if you’d like a burst of fresh optimism, check out the story about our students whose entrepreneurial instincts won’t let them wait until they graduate. They have already launched their own businesses.
We continue to invite exemplary business leaders to come and speak to our students. One of our Dean’s Convocations featured Larry Gelwix, the rugby coach who inspired the movie “Forever Strong” and who has guided the Highland Rugby team in Salt Lake City, Utah, to 18 national championships. Gelwix, who is also the CEO of Columbus Travel and the “Getaway Guru” on radio and television, delivered a powerful message about ethical leadership to students who filled the George S. Eccles Business Building auditorium and watched on LCD screens in other parts of the building.
Our student-led Partners In Business Annual Finance Seminar was built around the theme, “Weathering the Financial Storm.” It featured Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist of Freddie Mac, who spoke on housing and mortgage conditions. During the seminar we gave a Professional Achievement Award to University of Chicago economist, Lars Peter Hansen, a 1974 graduate of USU. This brilliant award-winning economist was the concluding speaker of the seminar.
In fall 2008, we presented Crystal Maggelet, who is co-owner of Crystal Inn and is the new CEO of Flying J, with a Distinguished Executive Alumnus Award. Crystal offered the more than 500 guests at our Annual Awards Banquet some valuable insight on how to balance work, family and community commitments.
The full list of business leaders who have visited campus to invest in our students is impressive and too long to include here. It’s gratifying to know that so many successful business leaders agree that we are focusing on the right things and are so willing to invest in our students by sharing their time, talents and financial resources.
As you know, our purpose at the Huntsman School of Business is to be a career accelerator for our students and an engine of growth for our communities, the state, our nation and the world. In a very real sense, we are about the business of creating the economic headlines of tomorrow. With your continued support, the dark clouds will part, and the sun will shine on. And, we’ll become recognized as a business school that not only teaches our students how to cope effectively with tough times, but even more importantly, how to make their own weather.