What does it take for a first-generation college student to become a Fortune 500 CEO?
A superior undergraduate education, according to two highly accomplished alumni who credit their Bucknell experience with their success in the business world. In gratitude, they've endowed faculty positions in the School of Management, which is just months away from becoming a college.
David West, who graduated in 1985, and his wife, Deborah, recently created the David J. and Deborah West Professorship of Management, which will support the interdisciplinary approach to business education David values.
"The opportunity to go to Bucknell was a critical point for me," said West, who has helmed the Hershey Co. and Del Monte Corp., among other food industry leaders. "The combination of the business curriculum in a liberal arts education, the small classes and the ability to spend time with my professors has served me well throughout my career."
Endowed faculty positions help the University recruit highly sought-after professors in a competitive market and reward current faculty members for outstanding teaching and scholarship. The timing of the gift adds depth to the School of Management as it continues its transition to a college on July 1, a process that was approved unanimously by the Board of Trustees in October 2015.
"As the curriculum, the program and the rigor expand, Bucknell needs the resources to stay rooted in the high-touch, personalized environment," West noted. "We wanted to help the management program grow but also keep it anchored in the liberal arts. If you can learn big-picture thinking at the college level, you'll carry that forward with you into the working world."
Dean of Management The Wests' gift is the second management faculty position created by donors as part of WE DO, The Campaign for Bucknell University. In December, the University announced the hiring of Raquel Alexander, the first-ever Kenneth W. Freeman Professor & Dean of Management. The position is funded by an endowed gift from Freeman, a member of the Class of 1972 and chairman of the Bucknell Board of Trustees, and his wife, Janice.
"Leadership matters," said Freeman, who, like West, was a first-generation college student. "In business, nothing happens without people — even in the digital age. Having exceptional faculty and a strong staff is key. The dean will play a highly influential role in setting the agenda of the college, and advocating for and advancing it in the outside world."
Having enjoyed great success in the private sector, most notably as chairman and CEO of Quest Diagnostics, Freeman is now the Allen Questrom Professor & Dean of the School of Management at Boston University. This is an exciting moment for Bucknell, he said.
"When I was at Bucknell in the late '60s, the College of Management was disbanded, and it became a department," Freeman noted. "We've come full circle to a point where the College of Management will play an important role in the future direction of Bucknell, with the expectation of greatness across Bucknell, in the arts & sciences, engineering and management. I know of no other university of our size that has distinction in all three areas. This is a huge opportunity for Bucknell in shaping future leaders."
"The Freeman position and the Wests' gift both strengthen the whole University and our unusual combination of professional programs, which are deeply integrated into the liberal arts programs central to Bucknell," Altmann said. "As a college, management will continue to strengthen its collaboration with faculty and students in both the arts & sciences and engineering. The new endowed professorship and the Freeman deanship allow us to recruit and retain the best possible people for what is a unique undergraduate program in management and a distinctive component of Bucknell's academic offerings."
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