New York investment banker William P. Carey officially dedicated the new business school at Arizona State University that bears his name Wednesday, saying to hopes it will attract students who want to do more than just make money.
“It is possible for a businessperson to leave the community a better place than they found it,” he said. “That is the type of students we want. If they just want to make money, they can go to Harvard.”
That comment drew a big round of laughter from the crowd of several hundred faculty, students, staff and supporters of the business school who attended the dedication ceremony. On Jan. 24, Carey announced that the W.P. Carey Foundation will give $50 million to the business school, the largest single endowment in ASU's history and the second largest gift ever given to an American business school. Also the business college was officially renamed the W.P. Carey School of Business.
The gift is being earmarked to hire high-quality faculty members and make other program improvements. A separate fund-raising campaign is planned to raise money for a new business college building. ASU's business school is already highly regarded in academic circles, and ASU boosters believe Carey's gift will elevate it into the ranks of the nation's elite business programs. They point to his business success as chairman of New York City-based W.P. Carey & Co. LLC, which is one of the largest holding companies of commercial and corporate real estate in the world.
In an interview after the ceremony, Carey said he hopes that within 10 years the school will be noted for producing some of the nation's best business people.
“I hope they will be turning out people who are outstanding leaders who are doing good for society and not just trying to make a lot of money for themselves. . . . ,” he said. Carey expressed confidence that the leadership of ASU and the business school will be able to achieve that vision. He added he will be available to offer suggestions and opinions about the management of the school, but final decisions will be left to the school's officials.
Carey decided to make the gift because of his family ties to Arizona and ASU. His grandfather sponsored the bill in the territorial Legislature 118 years ago that established what would become ASU. Other family members are graduates of the ASU business school, and he expects some of his grandchildren will become graduates in the future.
He added that business synergies may be gained by attaching his name to the college as well as his company. “The challenge to us is to be a credit to the ASU business school, and their challenge is to be a credit to us.” he said. ASU President Michael Crow said Carey's gift will allow the business school to develop a global reputation and strengthen the Valley's role as a regional economic hub.
“The key is to build a school on the Pacific Rim that is competitive with business schools in China and California and Singapore,” he said. “We need a school that positions this city to be a regional center of commerce.”
Dean Larry Penley said the endowment will enable “a very good school of business to become a great school of business.”
Some business students interviewed by the Tribune questioned, however, if the endowment will have much impact on them. Many said they are nearing graduation, and the gift will come too late to have any affect on their education. “I will be getting a degree in May 2004, and I don't see that money taking effect that soon,” said Christina Giardino, an accounting student from Rochester, N.Y. But she added “it will help a lot of students who will be coming into the program.”
Justin Clapick, an economics major from Phoenix, said the degree may become more prestigious over time as the business school continues to improve. But he added it's too soon to know for sure. “It's too early to see the direction it's going or where the money will be going,” he said.
Tedd Eyerman, an economics major from Tempe, said the gift and the new name seem to be mostly hype so far. “It's amazing to see how you can buy your own legacy,” he said, adding that the faculty and staff “are acting like they just won the lottery. But what does it mean to me? Will we get a Nobel Prize winner, or will the faculty just get new T-shirts?”
For Eyerman, academic elitism shouldn't be the top priority. “I would rather see them improve Arizona than worry about their position on the list (of business schools). That's something the UofA would do.”
Faculty members are certain the gift will benefit the school and students. “As faculty, we are delighted with the gift,” said Beth Walker, State Farm Distinguished Scholar of Marketing and a professor at the school. “It will help students by enhancing the reputation of the school of business. It will increase our national and international visibility.”
“It will give us visibility we have never had before, particularly on the East Coast,” said Tracy Clark, economist at the Bank One Economic Outlook Center, a research arm of the business school. “We need that.”