The College of Business got married last December.
Or, at least, one could get that impression when you hear Jon M. Huntsman talk about his feelings for the school that now bears his name. He said the Huntsman family had been considering making a large donation for some time.
Jon M. Huntsman
"This marriage between our family and Utah State University has been discussed quietly and privately with different administrations for the past eight years," he said.
While there have been strong leaders at USU over those years, Huntsman said he wanted to invest his money with the college when it was led by someone who shared his particular vision of what the Huntsman School of Business could become.
Huntsman said he knew the school would have to "increase both the size and the firepower of the faculty, and they would need to have programmatically more focus on quantitative and financial areas, internationalism and entrepreneurship."
Huntsman said the school's focus on ethical leadership, global vision and entrepreneurship have positioned it well to move ahead.
"We felt very keenly that when the time came to make this gift, that it was appropriate that there be the right leadership, both at the dean's level and the presidential level, so they would share the same vision we had in respect to the ultimate mission of the business school," he said. "We find the current president and the current dean to be men of remarkable vision."
Huntsman said that for the school to realize its potential it will take time and team work.
"We think we are going from excellence to preeminence," he said. "The preeminence will come in a period over the next several years as we, together with our alumni, contribute equal amounts of money and build Utah State's new business school into a global giant. I don't think there is any question that, working together, we can achieve that ultimate goal."
Huntsman's vision extends beyond the success of the school, however. It is focused on the type of graduates who will come from the Huntsman School of Business.
"First and foremost they should be men and women of integrity," he said. "That is to say that their word is their bond; that in their business dealings, their handshake is as strong as a legal contract; and that they be people of high character. Too many business schools teach students to make money, but they don't teach them to play fair and play by the rules. We want them to play fair and make money."
Huntsman said he expects students to be "men and women of graciousness and kindness." He also expects Huntsman graduates to have excelled academically.
"They should be able to compete with the brightest and best, produced anywhere in the world," he said. "They should not take a back seat to anyone. They should enter the marketplace extremely well-equipped and well-trained with the best possible academic and technical qualifications to compete with any institution of higher learning in the world"
He wants students to know how to adapt and grow despite changing market conditions.
"Making money in today's financial community and global economy is not difficult for most well-educated people," Huntsman said. "I think sustaining your ability to make money, that's a challenge."
Huntsman sees the school benefiting with assistance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and even leaders at Harvard and Stanford.
There's no reason not to take the best business schools and have them help us," he said. "Let's learn from them. Let's figure out how we can take the best models we can find anywhere in the world and inculcate them in our mission going forward."
He sees the Huntsman School of Business training students to compete at a crucial time of change.
"We are entering such a critical age of business education between the nanotechnology on one hand and the flow of business to emerging nations on the other hand," he said. "Where does America fit and, more critically, where does Utah State University's School of Business fit into this massive equation of change? If we do this right, we'll fit right in the middle."
When Huntsman spoke at USU last December he called the university one of the "finest institutions of higher learning in America." He echoed the remark in a recent interview.
"There's a remarkable atmosphere on the campus and the community in Logan," he said. "The university has a sense of purpose. There is a remarkable quality of life there. These factors will all combine to help us make this business school one of the finest in the country."