OGDEN -- Alan E. Hall on Friday announced his gift of $3.5 million to Weber State University for the funding of a new sales education center named for him.
The Alan E. Hall Center for Sales Excellence, consisting of several rooms in Weber State's Technical Education building, has been funded by a series of donations, and rooms already have been refurbished.
The Ogden businessman's goal for the center is to make Weber State one of the nation's top schools for teaching sales, and to serve as a local, national and international learning center through online classes including virtual lectures by top corporate leaders.
"I always felt Weber State had one of the more unique curriculums for training people anywhere in the United States," Hall told the Standard-
Hall, a WSU graduate, serves as president of the WSU Board of Trustees, and is founder and chairman of MarketStar, a business that handles marketing and sales for companies including Verizon Communications and Microsoft.
"MarketStar hires as many Weber State graduates as we can," Hall said. "They are well-trained by faculty members. From my view as chairman of the board, a donor and someone who wants to build on Weber State, my wife, Jeanne, and I decided we would fund this into a fantastic program that will be well known as a top program in the country."
Hall, who founded MarketStar in 1988, said he has long believed people underestimate the value of sales skills.
"Every individual on Earth needs to learn to sell themselves to their superiors, their subordinates, to clients, and to present their ideas to those around them," he said. "This program will focus on students, but will also allow interested individuals to learn about techniques of professional selling. They will get the tools, delivered in the classroom or over the Internet. There are so many ways to deliver curriculum. And the knowledge we will offer will apply to the United States and to other countries as well."
Rooms in the center include an office, a classroom and a conference room equipped with technology that will allow live Internet conferences or the recording of talks by corporate leaders, to be available to students regardless of their locations. A director of the Center for Sales Excellence will be hired and will help integrate the work of current Technical Sales department faculty members with knowledge shared by experts working in the world of sales.
Most of the $3.5 million donation will remain in the bank, earning interest, which will be used to fund ongoing projects for the center, making the project self-sustaining, Hall said
"Weber State was probably the very first college in the country to offer a sales degree," Hall said. "People are just starting to realize how important sales are.
"Weber State has been in the forefront, historically. I've talked to deans of business schools around the country and said, 'Tell me about your sales classes,' and they look at me and say, 'Why would we have that?' Without disparaging academia and business schools, they may have thought of sales as beneath the other disciplines, but without sales, businesses don't exist."
WSU technical sales professor Carl Grunander said the new center will push his department to the next level.
"It will further a unique program," Grunander said. "It will allow us to share our skills with the world, and increase our exposure and our reach."
David Ferro is dean of Weber State's College of Applied Science & Technology.
"This is going to be great for our sales program," Ferro said. "The strong program we already have will get stronger with a closer connection to industry partners. All sorts of people need to be able to present themselves to do well. This will be a benefit for our students, our community, our state and our nation, and Alan is thinking it will bring in international interest as well. It will help companies approach product development in a user- and client-centric way, not just to sell a product, but to treat the customer right and get client loyalty for life."
Ferro said he hopes the new center will collaborate with other Weber State departments to the benefit of all, perhaps cooperating with scholarly studies involving the business and psychology departments, among others.
Hall said the target date for beginning to offer new online courses, degrees and certificate programs is this fall.
Hall said hometown pride is the motive behind much of what he does.
"My goal is always to make Ogden a center of excellence."