The building will bear the name of 1959 Wharton grad Jon Huntsman, who gave $40 million to the project. Wharton School officials announced yesterday that the new, state-of-the-art 320,000-square-foot business school facility will be named for 1959 Wharton graduate Jon Huntsman, who donated $40 million to the business school last May. Huntsman Hall -- to be constructed on the site of the former University Bookstore at 38th and Walnut streets -- will soon be home to the 4,700 students in Wharton's undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as administrators and four Wharton departmental offices. It will also provide space for 48 classrooms, additional computer labs, group workstations, study and social lounges and two new cafes. A groundbreaking ceremony for the facility is scheduled for April 16. With construction for the multi-functional academic building to begin this summer and set for completion in early 2002, outgoing Wharton Dean Thomas Gerrity said his decision to allocate all $40 million of the unrestricted Huntsman donation -- the second-largest donation ever made to a business school -- toward the $128 million construction cost places the fundraising campaign ahead of schedule. "We are honored to have Jon Huntsman's name on this flagship building for Wharton and Penn," Gerrity said. "I can't think of anyone who better exemplifies and articulates the values of leadership that count in business and in society." Over the years, Huntsman and his family have donated more than $50 million to the Wharton School, which Huntsman credited for his success in establishing the Huntsman Corporation, the largest privately held chemical company in the United States. Currently, Huntsman serves as the chief executive officer of the company and sits on the business school's Board of Overseers. "As a scholarship student born and raised in the rural West whose life was dramatically enriched and broadened by Wharton, I can think of no honor more meaningful and humbling," Huntsman said in a statement. In addition to Huntsman's contribution, Wharton Associate Dean for Finance and Administration Scott Douglass said that at least 45 private donors -- mainly University and Wharton alumni but also including a small number of private firms and individuals -- have pledged a combined total of nearly $67 million to the building construction fund. According to Douglass, "Most of the contributions have been in the $2 million to $10 million range," with the majority of that money to flow into the project's building account during the next five years. Huntsman's donation and the private donors have kicked in a total of approximately $107 million toward the building, leaving a little more than $20 million still to be raised by soliciting corporations and smaller alumni contributions. "It hasn't been an easy process but it has been extraordinarily successful," Douglass said, noting that the enormous support of alumni will make the new complex the first University facility to be funded entirely by private philanthropy. And Gerrity added, "We could hardly be in stronger shape. We have not even gone out to the broad alumni base and are already 80 percent there." Although Wharton officials say they have secured the contributions of 23 donors who will be honored with designated areas in the new building, most of those donors are still in negotiations and the amounts of their contributions remain unconfirmed. Wharton officials have been able to confirm the names and contributions of five of the listed donors. Former president of the local Uniform Tubes Incorporated and 1954 Wharton MBA recipient Gordon Hattersley has pledged $3 million designated for the Gordon B. Hattersley Undergraduate Division Suite, which will house Huntsman Hall's administrative and advising offices. And University Trustee Miles Tannenbaum, the president of the local Arbor Enterprises and a 1952 Wharton graduate and 1957 Law School alumnus pledged $1 million to the project and will be honored with a classroom bearing his name. "I got a very good education at [Wharton] so this was payback time for me," said Tannenbaum, who made a large contribution to the Law School that was used toward the construction of the Nicole E. Tannenbaum Hall. Hewlett Packard President and Chief Executive Officer Lewis Platt, a 1966 Wharton MBA graduate, gave similar reasons for the motivation behind his $250,000 pledge. "My Wharton education helped me succeed in business and I am very proud of the school," Platt said. In addition, second-year Wharton graduate student Lori Griggs, chairperson of this year's Whitney M. Young Jr. business conference -- sponsored by the African American MBA Association -- announced in late February that the group would increase its January pledge of $250,000 to $1 million -- the first donation of that magnitude by a Penn student organization. "The best way to have influence and show support for the University is to make a sizable contribution," Griggs said. "One million makes a stronger statement than a quarter of a million dollars." And last April, Wharton officials announced a $10 million gift to the building fund from Taiwanese businessperson and diplomat Chen Fu Koo and his sons Chester and Leslie Koo, who will be honored with the Dr. C.F. Koo Plaza in the new facility. Including Koo, around six Asian businesspersons have donated to the facility and Douglass reaffirmed that none of the donors has withdrawn his pledge as a result of the recent financial crisis that has ravaged much of Asia. However, Douglass admitted that Wharton officials "tracked those donations very closely because some very significant donors have had some issues, and some have restructured agreements." According to Wharton Associate Director for Finance and Administration Trevor Lewis, the donors' gifts are spread out over a long period of time and currently about $15 million of the pledges' donations have trickled into the project's account. Officials expect to have received about $22 million by the end of the year. Lewis added that construction costs fall within a more constricted and urgent time frame and will necessitate the school's borrowing of $38 million in loans in 2001. The loans will be used to finance the remainder of the project once the money that will pay earlier construction costs runs out. Although Lewis had previously estimated that it would take until 2008 to pay back the loans, he said that the increase in donations will enable the loans to be paid back by 2004. And Gerrity added that if the project raises more than the $128 million needed to cover construction costs, officials will be able to endow the costs for maintaining Huntsman Hall and look into renovating Steinberg-Dietrich and Vance halls.Comments powered by Disqus
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