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B-School Life

A $40 Million Gift Aims to Transform Auburn's B-School

Auburn University, with Samford Hall in the background

Photograph by John Korduner/Replay Photos via Getty Images

Auburn University, with Samford Hall in the background

Auburn University’s College of Business received a $40 million pledge, the largest in the university’s history, from a wealthy alumnus and today renamed the school in his honor.

The gift from Raymond J. Harbert, a 1982 Auburn graduate and chief executive officer of the Birmingham-based investment firm Harbert Management, will help the school attract and retain faculty in finance, business analytics, and supply chain management, establish research initiatives on wealth creation and supply chain management, start a doctoral program in finance, and upgrade classroom facilities.

The pledge includes a $15 million matching gift that will be paid only to the extent that others make contributions. Three business graduates have already stepped up with individual gifts of $1 million or more: Kerry Bradley, former president of Luxottica Retail (LUX); Robert Broadway, CEO of the Broadway Group in Huntsville, Ala.; and David Luck, CEO of ABC Supply in Beloit, Wis.

“The gift is transformational because of its impact and how it will be used,” said Auburn President Jay Gogue in a statement. “Our vision is to be among the elite public business schools in the U.S.”

Currently ranked No. 58 by Forbes and No. 75 by U.S. News & World Report for its full-time MBA program, the Auburn business school enrolls nearly 4,000 graduate and undergraduate students. A low-cost state institution, Auburn’s MBA program accepts 42 percent of applicants. Last year, two-thirds of graduates had jobs within three months of graduation, mostly in finance and consulting, earning an average of $57,669.

“I am interested in helping the university become the best it can be,” Harbert said in the statement. “I always felt that college was a place to explore and find out who you are, and I hope this gift will allow Auburn to seek out professors who will challenge the students to be the best they can be.”

Join the discussion on the Bloomberg Businessweek Business School Forum, visit us on Facebook, and follow @BWbschools on Twitter.

Lavelle is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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