Logan, UT (PRWEB) October 02, 2013
Utah State University alumnus Jeffrey Clark and his wife, Bonnie Clark, have provided a $6 million leadership gift to help establish the Jeffrey D. Clark Center for Entrepreneurship in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at USU. Jeff is a pioneering entrepreneur in the financial industry, having cofounded one of the first “fund of hedge funds” in the United States, Genesee Partners, in 1985. He went on to found his own firm, Praesideo Asset Management, in 1991.
The endowment will fund programs that foster entrepreneurial success among Utah State students from across campus and from the distance campuses around the state, as well as among Cache Valley citizens. It also will fund headquarters offices in the soon-to-be-built Huntsman Hall. An additional pledge of $4 million is being sought to complete the funding for the Entrepreneurship Center.
“This gift from Jeff and Bonnie and their active involvement with our entrepreneurship programs will move us ahead significantly,” Dean Douglas D. Anderson said. “Now we can provide ever-more concrete, effective assistance to budding entrepreneurs who have great ideas they want to develop.”
Michael Glauser, executive director of the center, said that in addition to the generous financial support the Clarks have offered, they are also willing to invest their time in helping Huntsman students refine their entrepreneurial skills. “This is a tremendous opportunity for us to work together, potentially to change the face of entrepreneurship education in the state of Utah,” Glauser said.
“We are thrilled to be working with the Clarks because of the reputation, credibility and integrity they bring to the Huntsman School,” he continued. “We didn’t just want a name for the center; we wanted the right name on the center. Jeff is a perfect role model for our students.”
Jeff Clark said he is looking forward to working closely with Glauser, in part because the center is supporting students who want to make a positive difference in the world. “I admire Mike so much and the work he has done with the center thus far,” Clark said. “I really value the opportunity of working with him to help expand its reach.”
The Huntsman School of Business has a legacy of successful entrepreneurs who graduated from the program, including, for example, Scott Watterson, cofounder and CEO of Logan-based ICON Health & Fitness, the world’s largest developer, manufacturer and marketer of fitness equipment. In addition, Huntsman graduates Scott Huskinson and Clay Broadbent in 2006 founded iFrogz, a company that makes mobile device accessories. They then sold the company in 2011 for $105 million to ZAGG, a Salt Lake-based company that sells mobile device accessories to protect personal electronic devices such as iPhones, iPods and laptops.
Now Jeff and Bonnie Clark Focus On “Social Impact Investing”
Jeff Clark graduated from USU in 1982 with a degree in accounting, and now he is a member of the Huntsman School of Business National Advisory Board. In addition to launching Genesee Partners, he founded J.D. Clark & Company, an alternative investment servicing business based in Ogden. That firm went from managing $1.6 billion in 2000 to $28 billion in 2008, with 75 employees. It was sold in 2009 to Kansas City-based UMB Fund Services. Clark also founded, built and sold Praesideo Management, another fund of hedge funds. Praesideo was sold in 2013, after 20 years of 10.8 percent average returns.
Bonnie Clark is a graduate of Weber State University and a member of its Board of Trustees. She also has served on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Weber Davis and the Weber School Foundation.
Today the Clarks are focused on “social impact investing,” in which they seek investments that have the potential to change the world for the better. Their investment in the Clark Center for Entrepreneurship fits perfectly in that category. They are also investing in innovative products and programs for making a social impact in places like South Africa, Pakistan and South America.
A Host of Programs at the Center Engender Both Knowing and Doing
Glauser said the center teaches “entrepreneurship as the new leadership model for the 21st century,” adding that “it has relevance for any type of organization the students may work in.” “Entrepreneurship involves a set of skills that we believe are needed by any type of organization,” Glauser said. “It doesn’t matter if it is a for-profit business, a non-profit organization, a school, a foundation or a church. Employees who are innovative, quick to come up with new ideas, capable of doing feasibility research, adept at team building and able to market and promote new ideas are going to be in demand even in today’s competitive marketplace.”
The center sponsors the Lectures in Entrepreneurship series, a number of business competitions, and workshops on topics important to entrepreneurs and startup companies. A student-led Entrepreneurship Club has several teams that can assist people with critical stages of business development, from idea generation through execution plans. The club also sponsors competitions, workshops and conferences.
Through the center students have the opportunity to work with the school’s Small Enterprise Education and Development (SEED) program. The students work with entrepreneurs in Peru and Ghana, teaching them the basics of starting a business, helping them qualify for loans and then mentoring them as they build their companies.
Graduates from college and university entrepreneurship programs earn 27 percent more per year than general business graduates, according to a report from the Kauffman Panel on Entrepreneurship Curriculum in Higher Education. These graduates even earn $23,500 more per year in large corporations, on average, than general business graduates. Also they describe themselves as more satisfied with their jobs.
The Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University seeks to inspire and equip students to become innovative, ethical leaders with refined analytical skills that will help them understand and succeed in the global marketplace. The Huntsman School of Business is one of eight colleges at USU, located in northern Utah. More information on the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business may be found on the web at (http://www.huntsman.usu.edu).