By Sue McMurray, Carson College of Business

Carson-80PULLMAN, Wash. – More than 1,000 students attended the recent naming celebration of the Washington State University Carson College of Business, along with alumni, faculty, staff, friends and Carson family members, to recognize Scott and Linda Carson’s generosity and longtime support of WSU.

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Students, employees and alumni gathered for the naming ceremony.

“You are the reason why we invest in WSU,” Scott Carson (’72 business administration) said to students surrounding the stage in the Todd Hall atrium. “It’s about the beginning of your journey to make this university and this planet a better place. We are delighted and humbled about the naming, but this is about you.”

The process of renaming the college to the Carson College of Business was no easy task. It literally took over two years, said WSU President Elson S. Floyd.

He said he asked Scott and Linda Carson twice if the university could name the college after them, and both times the Carson’s declined because they are not about notoriety. The third time Floyd asked, they said yes, on the condition that the focus of their philanthropy would always be about student success.

“It is a huge pleasure to salute the Carsons,” said Floyd. “Their investments will have an indelible impact upon generations of students and allow the college to send a signal of uncompromised excellence.”

Transformations in Todd

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The Carsons inside the college with David Whidbee, interim dean.

Todd Hall underwent a dramatic transformation to coincide with the celebration. Interior walls were painted – color-coded to improve way-finding throughout the building – and new, interactive digital displays advertised the event. A floor-to-ceiling banner sporting the college’s new name hung adjacent to the stage and was a popular photo backdrop for countless students, the Carsons and mascot Butch.

Guests took student- or self-guided tours of Todd’s facilities such as the Carson Center for Student Success, an all-inclusive services center established by the Carsons that integrates academic advising, student involvement, professional development, scholarships and study abroad into a single complex.

The college also released its new website and alumni magazine in conjunction with the festivities.

Transformations thanks to education

But the building wasn’t the only thing transformed by the Carson’s generosity. Undergraduate Kathrine Hagen spoke about the impact of the Carson Family Endowed Scholarship she received.

“I was a poor high school student and didn’t plan on attending college, but I had big dreams,” she said. “My partner convinced me to go to college.

“I’ve grown from the diversity within the college, completed challenging projects and have a great job thanks to the opportunities in the Carson College,” Hagen said. She plans on becoming a forensic accountant and earning her doctorate in economics.

Graduation with distinction was the highlight of attending the WSU business program, Scott Carson said.

“The experience salvaged my life. Without any question, I was previously on a confused path,” he said. “I had low self-confidence and aspirations, but the success at WSU changed that and gave me the tools and foundation to be successful.

“You look at that and realize you have to invest in something that has that kind of impact on you,” he said.

The Carson impact

Over the years, the Carsons have impacted college programs and students in many ways. Their first investment included a scholarship targeting students who have lost a parent – a situation close to home for Scott Carson. Two of his sisters passed away, both of whom still had children in high school.

The Carsons established the Carson International Business Scholars’ Fund to support students participating in study abroad programs and developing global perspectives.

In 2006, their youngest daughter Shelley came home from WSU summer session and told them about a marketing professor who captured the imagination of young people. Though the Carsons did not know him at the time, that professor was Eric Spangenberg; he later became the dean of the college and a close friend of the Carsons.

To ensure that kind of impact and teaching excellence continued, the Carsons established the Boeing/Scott and Linda Carson Endowed Chair in Marketing, awarded to professor David Sprott.

The Carsons recently supported a 1,000-square-foot expansion of the center to add additional advisor offices, more seating and meeting areas and a computer bar.

“I don’t want the great relationships we have with WSU to change as a result of the college renaming,” Scott Carson said. “We will always be pro-education and want to continue the great work being done. It’s always been about the end game and how can we make young people productive members of society.”

About Scott Carson

Scott Carson earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1972. He retired as executive vice president of Boeing and president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, where he had responsibility for the company’s commercial airplanes programs and related services; these areas in 2008 generated revenues of more than $28.2 billion.

He is in his second term as a regent of WSU and is chair of the $1 billion Campaign for Washington State University. He serves on the WSU Foundation Board of Governors, is past chair of the WSU Carson College of Business National Board of Advisors and served on the advisory board for the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture.