Jon Huntsman Sr., USU donor and business school namesake, dies at 80

Jon M. Huntsman

Jon M. Huntsman Sr., the largest single source of donation to Utah State University and a champion for cancer research, religious unity, and charitable giving, has died from complications of prostate cancer today.

The Huntsman family released a statement saying he “passed away peacefully” around 2 p.m., “surrounded by a loving family, following long-term health challenges.”

Huntsman strongly advocated for USU throughout his life, donating a total of $56 million to the business program that bears his name.

“Jon Huntsman believed in us,” said Douglas Anderson, Dean of the Huntsman School, in a statement today. “He saw in Utah State University an institution that he admired and that he thought he could help aspire to a higher level of performance.”

Huntsman’s joint gift with the Koch Foundation of $50 million in 2017 went to support the Huntsman Scholars program, aimed at helping high achieving students financially and with career and university goals.

According to an email sent out by Blake C. Nemelka, an assistant director for the Huntsman Scholar program, members of the program are encouraged to wear their Huntsman Scholar polos on Monday in honor of the man who helped found the program.

“I’ve been observing Utah State University for the past 50 years. This is the finest college in America,” Huntsman once said. “It’s an honor to be associated with this outstanding school.”

Anderson said Huntsman was a partner with USU every step of the way.

“He was totally aligned with our vision, but he constantly encouraged us to reach higher, dig deeper and accomplish more,” Anderson said.

USU President Noelle Cockett released a statement saying, “We wish to extend our deepest condolences to the Huntsman family at the passing of our dear friend, Jon Huntsman. Mr. Huntsman has been a tremendous benefactor to our campus community, evidenced of course by his impact on the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.

Cockett added that it would be short-sighted to honor Huntsman only for his philanthropic causes.

“Mr. Huntsman was a model of ethical leadership himself, and his love for our students was clear and ingrained deeply in his heart,” Cockett said. “His generosity was personal, and his legacy will live long in our own hearts.”

Anderson was not short on praise for Huntsman’s legacy and influence in the business program.

“We are a much better institution because of his generosity, friendship and love,” Anderson said. “If I were dean for 100 years, I doubt I could find another partner of such surpassing gifts. I will miss him greatly.”


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