Trustees and friends rally to fund future College of Business
Rich Hanson grew up in Forest Grove and has always had close ties to Pacific University.
Though Hanson earned his degree from the University of Oregon, the retired Weyerhaeuser chief operating officer has stayed involved with Pacific University.
“I have a very strong affinity to Pacific because of growing up there and always having respect for that institution,” Hanson said.
Today, Hanson is a member of the Pacific University Board of Trustees and is turning his love of Pacific into support for the University’s growth. He is among a group of trustees and friends known as the College of Business Champions, a cohort of leaders committed to helping create and raise financial support for a new College of Business at Pacific.
“My feeling is, it’s the next big thing as far as growth potential,” Hanson said.
Pacific University already draws some 13 percent of undergraduate students to its business administration programs within the College of Arts & Sciences, and many others take business courses outside their majors.
“If we can build from that base, it serves as a new growth platform,” Hanson said, adding that such a program has the potential to draw more international students and create strong ties to businesses throughout Washington County and Oregon.
“We think this will be like health professions, in that it will be synergistic and enhance the efficiency of the University and provide a new growth platform.”
The College of Health Professions was established in 2004, uniting programs such as occupational therapy, physical therapy and professional psychology. Since then, the College has moved to a new campus in Hillsboro and continues to grow, adding programs such as a doctorate of audiology in Fall 2012 and a master’s in athletic training, slated for Fall 2013.
The longstanding success of Pacific in addressing healthcare education and the success in launching a new college dedicated to the field is encouragement for how a new College of Business would enhance the University, Hanson said.
Added University President Lesley Hallick, a future College of Business could partner with both health professions fields and the College of Arts & Sciences with deep student crossover. Pacific hopes for full accreditation of a potential Business College, which would mean undergraduate students would still need a two-year liberal arts base. Conversely, business programs could enhance the skill set and professional opportunities for students in other fields.
“Our students preparing for clinical professions may one day own and operate a clinic,” Hallick said. “Licensure doesn’t really prepare you to run a small business, so that’s an obvious specialty area for us.”
The entire business of healthcare is a niche opportunity for Pacific, Hanson echoed.
“We saw a good match where we could be unique, and that’s in the health sciences,” Hanson said.
One key goal as the University moves forward in exploring the idea of a new College is that it enhance existing programs. Traditionally, it takes a few years for any new program to turn from investment to net gain, Hallick said.
“We based our assumptions on the fact that our initial investment would come from philanthropy. The generosity of our board is making that possible,” she said.
“It’s remarkable the way this opportunity has galvanized the interest of our board. Once it became apparent that we were serious about this and ready to go, they’ve been extremely generous, in really an unsolicited manner,” Hallick said.
The opportunity, Hanson said, is a win-win prospect.
“We’re determined to raise the funds to establish the College and to be additive to Pacific University’s resources, not draw off any resources that are currently dedicated to the University,” Hanson said. “We think we have a real advantage in terms of being a liberal arts college with a broad-based education, but with business that will attract international students and provide a unique curriculum around the health sciences.”