Huntsman students often meet with successful business leaders. It’s not every day, however, they get to sit down and talk with Jon M. Huntsman himself.
In April 2009, 52 Huntsman Scholars and 13 USU Armenian students were invited to have dinner with Mr. Huntsman and his wife, Karen, at the Huntsman Corporation offices in Salt Lake City.
Jon M. Huntsman greets students from Armenia.
The Huntsman Scholars were there, in part, to thank him for funding the program that has given many of them the opportunity to travel around the world and see firsthand how the global marketplace functions. The Armenian students are experiencing life at USU thanks to scholarships funded by Jon and Karen Huntsman.
At the dinner, Mr. Huntsman went from table to table, greeting students individually and posing for dozens of pictures. When he came upon the Armenian students, his face lit up and he reached out to them as if he were trying to gather them all in a single hug.
Later, after the Huntsman Scholars and Armenian students had made presentations thanking him and sharing what they had learned. Mr. Huntsman choked up a bit and said it was difficult to speak of the Armenians because of the love he felt for the students and the country that has adopted him. Mr. Huntsman came to know the Armenian people when he traveled to the country to help after a devastating 1988 earthquake that left thousands homeless. He has since contributed more than $50 million to the Armenian people and is officially considered an Armenian citizen in that country.
Huntsman said while he may have given what he termed a “small amount” to Armenia, “the reality is that they have given so very much to our family and to us.”
Mr. Huntsman then surprised the group, which included USU President Stan Albrecht and Dean Douglas D. Anderson, by announcing he would double the number of Armenian scholarships the Huntsman family funds, increasing the number from 13 to 26.
One Huntsman Scholar, Matthew Packer, a junior majoring in accounting, told Jon and Karen Huntsman that in difficult times he has looked at his Huntsman Scholar nametag and gained courage to go on as he thought about what it represents to him. He thanked Mr. Huntsman for the scholarship.
From left to right, RJ Netzley, Craig Maughan, Jon M. Huntsman, Brad Carr and Dean Douglas D. Anderson pose for a picture.(Photos by Steve Eaton)
“It has opened doors for me that would be completely shut,” he said. “I want to thank you for what you have done and for what you have given to all of us.”
President Albrecht thanked Jon and Karen Huntsman for all they have done for USU.
“Some days in the life of a president are better than other days,” President Albrecht said. “This is one of the really good days.”
Mr. Huntsman told the students his heart was “deeply touched by their kind words” and said much would be expected of them. He told them to never give up, to love their neighbor and to be grateful for all they had.
“Never forget who you are, what you represent, the goodness that you can bring upon the earth to everybody and the confidence that your leaders at this great university have placed in you,” he said. “It’s a great honor to be with you tonight. It’s a great privilege to be your friend.”