Fulfilling a Global Dream
By Janine S. Creager
November 1, 2009
Timing is everything. But when opportunity knocks at an inconvenient time, you may just have to open that door and walk in. Just ask Doug Anderson. The day after committing himself to an additional five years with The Center for Executive Development, a Boston-based executive company focusing on strategy and leadership, the phone rang. It was Stan Albrecht, president of Utah State University (USU). Anderson knew Albrecht well and certainly was no stranger to USU. Anderson was born in Logan, a fifth-generation Cache Valley-ite, as he puts it. He had attended the university (as did his parents, siblings and dozens of cousins) and later returned to serve USU research foundation’s board, as well as served as the vice-chairman of the Board of Trustees. But this time Albrecht called to ask Anderson for a deeper commitment.
“He said, ‘I was wondering if I could persuade you to be the dean [of the College of Business],’” says Anderson. “I was thinking, ‘It’s too bad that I can’t do this. It’s a great opportunity to make a contribution to a school that I love.’”
After listening to Anderson’s reasons, both professional and familial, of why he couldn’t take the position, Albrecht wisely suggested that Anderson take some time to discuss the matter with his wife, and think about it.
A month or so later, while visiting with a good friend about his dilemma, Anderson said, “Heaven can’t be in this, because I would have gotten the phone call a week before, not the day after.” At that, his friend said, “The question is: Is it the right thing to do?” At that, Anderson concluded that while taking the position was inconvenient in many ways and would mean a substantial financial sacrifice, it was exactly what he wanted to do: create a legacy in a place he deeply loved.
“I call myself the accidental dean,” says Anderson, who became the dean of the College of Business July 1, 2006.
Years before, when Anderson returned to Utah State after attending Stanford University in California, he recalls walking up and down the Boulevard to campus and looking out over the south end of the valley.
“I remember thinking, ‘This is the most beautiful spot in the world. Is there a way that I could participate in the global economy and live here?’” At the time, such a wish was just that. But times have changed and Anderson is realizing his dream. “The fact of the matter is that technology and transportation make it so that you can live in Cache Valley and work anywhere in the world,” he says. Next year, Anderson will take a group of USU students to Switzerland for a semester abroad to participate in that same global economy. “It is not a pipe dream at all. I believe that Cache Valley should be thought of as the next Switzerland.”
With a lofty goal to gain national recognition for Utah State as a top-tier business school within the next 10 years, and with a significant grant from the family of Jon Huntsman Sr., Anderson is keeping that dream and vision alive.
“I would not do this job any other place,” says Anderson. “I was born and bred to love Cache Valley. This is a mission of love, not a career step for me. I feel a tremendous obligation and commitment.”