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A Global Investment
It was a new undergraduate joint-degree program in international studies and business -- the first of its kind in the country. Like a "true venture capitalist," Jon M. Huntsman, W'59, Hon'96, supported it in its infancy with a $10 million endowment. And now, with the graduation of its inaugural class, said Dr. Jamshed Ghandhi, W'56, G'57, director of the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, "We are really a known product." Ghandhi was one of several to speak at a dinner hosted by Penn president Dr. Judith Rodin, CW'66, at her home, Eisenlohr Hall, to fete the 23 graduating seniors and thank the Huntsman family.
Jon M . Huntsman spacer

   Huntsman, a University trustee, is founder, chair, and CEO of the Huntsman Corporation, one of the world's largest producers of plastics and specialty chemicals, with locations in 23 countries and some 6,500 employees. (Two of his sons, Jon Jr., C'87, and David, C'92, also attended Penn.)
   Once admitted into the selective Huntsman program, students must fulfill all of the requirements for bachelor's degrees from the School of Arts and Sciences and the Wharton School. They must also complete advanced language courses; a senior seminar; courses in area studies, international business, and international studies; and a semester of study abroad, immersing themselves in the language and culture of their host country.
   The Huntsman program, Rodin observed, "has clearly attracted the best students in the country: Students who know that the world of the 21st century will have very few boundaries, that this world is going to require very broad skills not only in business and the professions, but also in languages. It will require an understanding of cultural differences and a long-term perspective -- indeed, patience -- and it will require a certain level of giving both of oneself and of personal resources." Rodin advised the first group of Huntsman alumni to emulate the program's namesake by acting on their ideals and by remembering "what you can give back to society as a result of this great education."
   Huntsman, who grew up in rural Idaho, in a tiny house without plumbing, didn't realize he was poor, and until college, he had never traveled farther than 100 miles, to Ogden, Utah. So when he arrived in Philadelphia to attend Penn, he recalls, "I was shocked, overwhelmed, unable in many ways to cope with the large city ... and yet it was truly a high-water mark in my life in changing my focus and understanding of other people and beginning a remarkable career."
   Nine members of his family work for the Salt Lake City-based Huntsman enterprise, which brings in revenues of more than $5 billion a year. "We've been blessed far beyond our expectations in life," Huntsman said. "We never deserved what we have." The family business -- and Huntsman's humanitarian work for flood victims in Thailand and earthquake victims in Armenia -- has, at times, taken him even greater distances from his midwestern hometown. "Over the years," says Huntsman, "I've learned to love people from all countries and all walks of life, and to respect them for their uniqueness and their differences."
   Jon Huntsman Jr., chair of the program's advisory board and a University trustee, capped off the evening's speeches in a style befitting the global nature of the occasion -- with brief remarks in Mandarin and in English.

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Copyright 1998 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 5/25/98