The largest gift in Auburn University history.
The largest gift to a single college or school in Alabama history.
One of the largest gifts to a college of business in U.S. history.
The beginning of the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business at Auburn University.
Raymond Harbert, a 1982 business graduate, has committed $40 million to the College of Business. Subsequently, the Board of Trustees voted on June 21, 2013, to rename the college to the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business.
Over the past few years, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Raymond. He is a highly intelligent, driven, and shrewd businessman, yet refreshingly very humble. I personally admire how he, about 20 years ago, deviated from the safest and easiest path and, instead, created Harbert Management Corporation. This says a lot about his character and who he is as a person and business leader. Since its founding in 1993, Raymond has very quietly built Harbert Management Corporation into a worldwide institution with locations in London, Hong Kong, and Melbourne, among others. The funds under his management have averaged an 11 percent return over the past 16 years, compared to the S&P’s 6.1 percent improvement during this same time. He knows a good investment when he sees one. He just made a $40 million investment in the newly-named Harbert College of Business.
Unlike many gifts of this size, the investment is not in bricks and mortar; rather, it is in people and programs. Specifically, faculty, Ph.D. programs, and research centers. Over the next several years, with this gift, we will aggressively pursue and retain world-class faculty via the creation of eminent scholar endowed chairs. Currently, we have three eminent scholars; our peers and aspirants have many more. In today’s environment, to compete, a top business school must have a bevy of eminent scholars. Our goal is to create at least 10 additional eminent scholars in the next few years.
We must also grow our Ph.D. programs. Currently we have two Ph.D. programs and about 20 Ph.D. students; the average among our peers and aspirants is five programs and about 75 students. The growth of these programs is necessary for us to nurture our research enterprise and to attract the aforementioned world-class faculty.
Finally, we will create research centers as centers of excellence around themes in which we can be world-class. Initially, our efforts will be concentrated in business analytics, supply chain, and investments; although these early efforts will spawn other centers. These centers will help us engage the business community and attract Ph.D. students and great faculty.
Are you starting to see how these things fit together to lift a college from being very good to being great? Raymond certainly did and made the investment.
Given Raymond’s track record over the past 20 years, if he is investing in it, it must be a winner.
Thank you, Raymond Harbert, for investing in us.