USU’s Huntsman Scholars Program getting a ‘total redesign’

LOGAN – Utah State University’s Huntsman Scholars Program is about to undergo some big changes.

Thanks to last month’s announcement of the $50 million gift to the Jon. M Huntsman School of Business from the Huntsman Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation, the business school’s premier undergraduate business program will quadruple in size and go through a change in curriculum. Half of the gift will go directly to the program, which means it will receive $2.5 million every year for the next decade.

“Because of the huge success of the current program, (Huntsman) wanted to greatly expand that,” said Dave Patel, the program’s executive director.

Patel understands that some people – especially former students – may not like the “total redesign” of curriculum, but he said the gift gave faculty an opportunity to take the best parts of the current structure and implement new ideas.

“The redesign is not a knock at all on the current program,” he said. “We think the current program is great, and it has been great for 10 years. We could just not think through a way to (quadruple) the current program and make that a cost-effective venture.”

The biggest change, according to Patel, will be the number of students involved. Currently the program adds about 25 students per year, giving it a total of about 100 students at any given time, but the goal is to quadruple the size. About 100 students will be accepted every year to eventually reach a total of 400 students.

According to Patel, that doesn’t mean acceptance to the program will get any easier; he expects it to still be very competitive. Even though the program added a record 65 students during the last admission period, the majority of the candidates didn’t get in.

“From those 65 we admitted I think we looked at close to 300 applicants,” Patel said. “So it is still going to be a very selective process.”

It can remain selective partly because of the business school’s growth. Patel referenced a 35 percent increase in the school’s enrollment over the last five years. That means more students are available to apply.

“Not only is enrollment increasing but the enrollment of the very best students is increasing by a larger percent,” he said. “More and better students are applying.”

Another reason admittance will likely stay competitive? More than half of the $25 million will go directly to scholarships. Not only will that incentivize more students to apply for the program, but Patel said those in the program will be able to focus more on schoolwork instead of balancing it with a part-time job.

Huntsman Scholar students will be required to take the same classes every business major takes, but they will be in their own scholar sections of the courses. They will also take additional courses each year centered on the four pillars of the Huntsman School.

“It is really sort of a classroom plus an outside-the-classroom experience that really exposes students to those topics in a very experiential way,” Patel said.

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