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Excitement. Game-changing. Generosity. Transformational. Phenomenal. And yes … more excitement.
These were just some of the words used by faculty, alumni and students to describe the generosity exhibited by four independent sources — including one gift of $40 million from Birmingham businessman and 1982 Auburn business graduate Raymond J. Harbert that ushered in a new era and new name for the college.
“It’s a game-changer,” said Spencer Lee, an MBA Advisory Council member who received his MBA from the College of Business in 1992 and is now a securities analyst at the Alabama Securities Commission. “It opens doors that we would not have been able to budge. This level of generosity is infectious and a real encouragement for other stakeholders in this program.
The types of things that the college can do with this … you name it.”
The most immediate change involves a new identity as the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business. Dean and Wells Fargo Professor Bill Hardgrave said the ceremonial recognition of the name change will take place on Oct. 5.
Auburn University President Jay Gogue considered the gift “a tipping-point for the university.”
“When the Board of Trustees gets together in naming opportunities, they have to make sure that good name and character are a part of their decision,” Gogue told faculty, staff, and students at a formal conference Friday afternoon at Lowder Hall. With the Harbert family, good name and character was absolutely at the A-plus level.
“This is a phenomenal transforming gift. It’s also a tipping point for the university.”
Tara Jones, a junior in marketing/accounting and the reigning Miss Auburn, discussed the announcement’s impact.
“This gives more worth to my degree and I’m excited to graduate in May with this new name on my degree,” she said. “It makes the school more competitive in the workplace and it makes employers look at our college in a different light. I’m so excited for that, for me, approaching my senior year, and for future generations.”
Chris Baker, representing the College of Business Alumni Advisory Council, summed Friday’s announcement into three words: stewardship, pride and, of course, excitement.
“I see so much pride in the Auburn family,” Baker, a retired partner from Accenture in Atlanta and 1987 business graduate. “We can take that next step on a transformative journey for the college.”
Baker discussed the college’s plan to “be among the elite” business schools in the nation.
“When you think about that it allows the mind to wonder to what greatness can be,” he said. “I don’t think of it as a gift. I think of it as an investment in the faculty, staff, alumni …” Anthony Brown, an MBA Advisory Council member who received his MBA from Auburn in 1992, considered the gift “transformational.”
“For so many years, the college has done so many outstanding things with such limited resources,” said Brown, now a financial advisor at Ronald & Blue Co., LLC, in Montgomery. “It’s really exciting for those of us who are alumni who have been supportive of the business over the years to see great things are coming. This is incredible. What a great day for Auburn.”