When the university called him the first time five years ago, Chris Fawson was toting an AK-47 automatic assault rifle and attending an Islamic wedding in the Yemen highlands.
A Korean tour guide posed for a picture with Chris Fawson on one of his trips abroad.
That was when the provost at Utah State University asked him to become the interim director of international programs for the University.
When Douglas D. Anderson, the dean of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business , asked him to become the associate dean of international affairs this fall, Dr. Fawson was not so far from campus, and the AK-47 was long gone. After serving as the vice provost of academic and international affairs for USU for three years and as the Department of Economics head for one year, Dr. Fawson said he was looking forward to being "just a professor" again, teaching and doing research work.
Dean Anderson, however, had other ideas. With the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business ramping up its efforts to emphasize the importance of an international perspective in business, Dean Anderson knew there were few who could help as much as Dr. Fawson.
Dr. Fawson has connections.
For example, when he was in Yemen on a vocational training project for the World Bank, a friend invited him to join a roof-top wedding celebration that included dancing and firing guns in the air a very rare privilege for a westerner.
If you ask Fawson about his travels throughout Asia, South America, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the Caribbean Basin, you’ll hear some interesting stories. If you pay close attention you might start to notice a pattern in those stories.
He appears to have as many connections as Indiana Jones but without the enemies.
Wherever he goes he leaves behind people who are great friends, people who welcome him back and offer him help. He appears to have as many connections as Indiana Jones but without the enemies. His international experience in places like Vietnam, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Italy has not been as a tourist. Instead he’s been working for organizations such as the Asian Development Bank, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
That was just the kind of experience Dean Anderson wanted to tap.
When the dean called, however, Fawson was finally back where he wanted to be - teaching, helping students and doing his research.
And yet Dr. Fawson could see that the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business was serious about helping its students get a stronger global perspective. When Dean Anderson asked him to lead the effort, he agreed to do so.
"There was really only one compelling reason for me to come back," Fawson said. "I truly believe that with Doug here we have an opportunity to do great things, and our students deserve the opportunity to get the very best education we can provide for them. I saw a convergence of forces that will present the opportunity to do something significant and meaningful."
Dr. Fawson said he’d like to see every student have an international experience as part of their academic work in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business . Utah universities have an unusual resource, in that so many of the young men and women who attend school there have served missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Jon M. Huntsman School of Business did a survey of its students last spring that showed that 40 percent of the respondents had livedabroad for at least three months and 45 percent were fluent in a second language, Dr. Fawson said.
Working with Vijay Kannan, a professor who has played a key role in establishing the college’s international business degree program, Dr. Fawson is setting up an eight-week, faculty-led, study-abroad course available to students this summer that will take the students to Brazil, Chile and Peru. Students who take the course will meet with government officials and business leaders from various organizations, he said. He’d like to set up the same kind of course in Asia.
Dr. Fawson is also initiating efforts to bring a USU international business degree program to students in China. These programs will create opportunities for students at Utah State University to more effectively immerse themselves in Jon M. Huntsman School of Business -sponsored academic programs throughout the world.
Dr. Fawson, who grew up in Utah, graduated from Weber State University with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1982. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a Master of Science degree in economics 1983 and a doctorate in economics in 1986. He has been at Utah State University for 17 years.