Harbert makes transformational gift to Auburn University, positions College of Business for prominence

Raymond J. HarbertAUBURN UNIVERSITY – Some reintroductions are in order for Auburn University’s College of Business in the wake of the largest gift in the university’s history.

The college will now be known as the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business – a move made possible by a $40 million commitment from 1982 alumnus Raymond J. Harbert. Auburn University’s Board of Trustees approved the naming of the college during its Friday morning meeting at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center.

“This is a historic day for the College of Business,” College of Business Dean and Wells Fargo Professor Bill Hardgrave said. “We are proud to forevermore carry the Harbert name as a symbol of quality, hard work, entrepreneurial spirit, dedication and the Auburn Spirit.”

Harbert serves as chairman and CEO of Harbert Management Corporation, a Birmingham-based independent investment firm founded in 1993, and on the Auburn University Board of Trustees.

“I am interested in helping the university become the best it can be,” Harbert said. “One of the critical elements to making that happen is capital. I have been blessed with success in my business endeavors, which in turn allows me to make that capital available as an investment in the College of Business’ future. To say it a different way, ‘To whom much is given, much is required.'”

Harbert’s name will strengthen the college’s position as a national and global leader in shaping business thought and practice by:

  • Creating additional eminent scholar and endowed chairs to recruit and retain top faculty members in such areas as finance, business analytics and supply chain management;
  • Establishing the Harbert Investments Center, a research enterprise focused on securities and wealth creation, and a supply chain management research institute that will work in partnership with the university’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering;
  • Forming a doctoral program in finance to help prepare future thought leaders in academia and practice;
  • Enhancing instructional technologies and classroom facilities.

“It is extremely gratifying to have this opportunity to help move Auburn forward, and I look forward to watching Dean Hardgrave make these improvements,” Harbert said. “I have 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.”

Raymond Harbert (right), who is accompanied by his wife Kathryn at Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting, is presented with an Auburn Oaks gavel by Vice President for Development Jane Parker and Dean Bill Hardgrave.

Raymond Harbert (right), who is accompanied by his wife Kathryn at Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting, is presented with an Auburn Oaks gavel by Vice President for Development Jane Parker and Dean Bill Hardgrave.

A portion of Harbert’s commitment includes a $15 million matching gift – challenging other graduates and friends of the College of Business to help it build momentum as the university prepares to enter its next comprehensive campaign. Three College of Business graduates were among a group of donors who answered with “challenge match” gifts of $1 million or more. Kerry Bradley ’79 and Laura Bradley, Robert M. Broadway Jr. ’91 and Julie Broadway, and David Luck ’71 and Terri Lynn Luck each made commitments in support of endowed and eminent scholar chairs. Mr. Bradley, a Lake Martin resident who earned a marketing degree and retired as president of Luxottica Retail, serves as the college’s campaign chair, and as a member of its Advisory Council. Mr. Broadway, a Huntsville resident and CEO of The Broadway Group, LLC, earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA from the college. Mrs. Broadway, owner of Broadway Gymnastics in Huntsville, Ala., is currently pursuing degrees in psychology and family development from Auburn. Mr. Luck, a Woodstock, Ill., resident who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and serves as CEO of ABC Supply Company in Beloit, Wisc., is also a member of the college’s Advisory Council.

Auburn University President Jay Gogue said Harbert’s gift makes an important statement about the college’s image and identity.

“The gift is transformational because of its impact and how it will be used,” Gogue said. “Our goal is to be more than a good College of Business. We’re already there thanks to outstanding faculty, staff, students and alums. Auburn’s goal is thought leadership in business education, business research and economic development.”

Of the top 50 business schools ranked by U.S. News & World Report, 42 carry the names of benefactors. The Harbert name will bring a new level of prestige to a college already recognized as one of the nation’s top public schools of business.

“Our vision, crafted in 2012, is to be among the elite public business schools in the U.S. With this gift, we immediately enter a select group of schools that carry the names of great benefactors,” Hardgrave said. “Our new name – the Harbert College – symbolizes the greatness we embrace and pursue.”

Founded in 1967 with 13 faculty and a few hundred students, the college now serves as home to nearly 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 75 tenure-track faculty members, two research centers, four academic departments and one school. The college is among the top five percent of colleges and schools of business accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, or AACSB.

U.S. News & World Report ranks Auburn 27th overall among public undergraduate schools and colleges of business and seventh nationally for its online graduate programs. Forbes Magazine ranks the college 27th nationally among public university MBA programs, while European CEO Magazine recognized Auburn as having the “Best Executive Remote Learning Program” in North America. The college’s Physicians Executive MBA program earned a No. 13 ranking from Modern Healthcare and its accounting program is among the best nationally for the CPA pass rates of its students.

Harbert and his wife, Kathryn Dunn Harbert ’81, have both been generous in their support of Auburn University and the College of Business. Previous investments in the college include the Raymond J. Harbert Eminent Scholar Chair in the Department of Finance, the Raymond J. Harbert Fund for Excellence Endowment in the Department of Finance and the TIGER Lab, a 40-station computer lab for students.

Harbert Management Corporation manages more than $3 billion in assets and attracts investors from such sources as high-net worth individuals, financial institutions, pension funds and foundations. In addition to its investment teams in eight U.S. cities, including New York City and Chicago, the firm’s global footprint encompasses London, Paris, Hong Kong, Madrid and Melbourne.

After graduating from Auburn with a degree in industrial management, Mr. Harbert began his career with Harbert International, Inc., a subsidiary of Harbert Corporation. He served as vice president of business development before becoming president of the corporation’s real estate subsidiary, Harbert Properties Corporation. In 1988, he was elected vice president of Harbert Corporation and managed the company’s investment portfolio.

Harbert said faculty members in Auburn’s College of Business helped bring out the best in him as a student and prepared him well for the professional world.

“I greatly enjoyed my classes with [former faculty members] James Cox and John Blackstone,” Harbert said. “Both were excellent professors who made a difference by motivating and challenging me to work harder on my studies, which led to a greater sense of accomplishment and ultimately enjoyment of my Auburn experience.

“I also appreciated the interaction that I had with [former] Dean George Horton, who was an outstanding advisor and was very supportive of my efforts as well as those of the other students.”

In 1990, Harbert gained oversight of the rest of the firm after being elected president and CEO of Harbert Corporation. He earned Ernst & Young’s regional Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Financial Services in 2006.

A father of three, Harbert serves as a trustee for the Robert Meyer Foundation and as a member of the Executive Committee for the Children’s Hospital of Alabama. He also serves on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee for the Birmingham Business Alliance and the University of Alabama at Birmingham President’s Advisory Board.

To learn more about Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business, visit business.auburn.edu  and www.theshareholderonline.com. Information can also be found at http://business.auburn.edu/about/press-release and http://harbert.auburn.edu.

Contact: Troy Johnson, College of Business, (334) 844-8859 (ltj0001@auburn.edu), or Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9996 (clardch@auburn.edu)