LOGAN -- The shoveling of ceremonial dirt for Utah State University's new Huntsman Hall was only a formality. The seeds were planted years ago for a bigger, better Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.
"In 2007, Jon Huntsman issued a challenge," said Dave Patel, assistant dean of USU's Jon M. Huntsman College of Business. "He wanted us to produce students who can compete with the best and finest in the world, and that's the journey we are on."
USU hired faculty from top universities, and supported students in their pursuit and achievement of national and global academic awards, Patel said. Next on the schedule is the completion of Huntsman Hall, a $42 million business building named for Huntsman, the major donor. The building was funded one third by the state of Utah, two thirds by private donors.
Huntsman Sr., a longtime Utah business magnate, is father of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
At last week's the ground breaking ceremony, the elder Huntsman described the planned building as a place where integrity and ethics would be emphasized.
Huntsman Hall, due for completion by fall 2015, will be 117,000-square-feet, and will wrap around the south and west sides of the George S. Eccles Business Building. The new space will have 21 classrooms and 21 smaller rooms to accommodate student meeting.
"More and more, students are working in collaborative teams, like in business," said Patel. "These are spaces where groups of six to eight students can get together and work on projects, with technological support throughout."
Because of the technology, the students working together could include several on site, and several more on campuses in Brigham City and Tooele.
"It's great training for students going into the workforce, who will work like that," Patel said.
Huntsman spoke at the event along with another major donor, Jeffrey D. Clark, founder, chairman and CEO of J.D. Clark & Co.
Dean Douglas D. Anderson described early design deliberations when funding challenges forced school officials to consider scaling back the facility. Clark argued in favor of the larger structure that would be needed to meet the needs of future generations, asking them to "Go big or go home."
"Jeff drove us to believe in our dream that we could have a classroom building second to none, where faculty and students could work corroboratively to create entrepreneurial opportunities," Anderson said at the ground breaking.
Patel said classrooms also feature current technology, although he acknowledged that technology changes very quickly. Any future updates should be easier in Huntsman Hall than they would be in the current business building.
"Retrofitting technology into a 42-year-old building can be done, but it ends up costing more and not looking great," he said.
Huntsman Hall will help accommodate enrollment growth in the business college as well as campus wide, he said. The university schedules classes in available spaces, regardless of the majors involved. The Eccles Business Building, for example, may host biology or history classes, as need dictates, Patel said.
Work on the site actually began several months ago.
"The ground breaking was symbolic," Patel said. "We wanted our students on campus, because this building is for them."
Patel believes Huntsman Hall will provide more than classroom space.
"While the literal benefits of a new building are classrooms, the symbolic benefit is it will help when we bring students to campus, or recruit new faculty, or with philanthropy. Huntsman Hall has literal and symbolic benefits for us."
Contact reporter Nancy Van Valkenburg at 801-625-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @S_E NancyVanV.