A first-of-its-kind endowed deanship at North Dakota State University has been established to support the College of Business thanks to a $3 million investment which will elevate the growth and stature of the region’s premier business school.
The endowed fund, established through the NDSU Foundation and Alumni Association, is named in honor of Ronald G. and Kaye S. Olson of Wayzata, Minn. The deanship marks an historic moment in NDSU’s history as it establishes the first permanent, self-sustaining source of philanthropic support to enhance the college’s strategic operations and its service to citizens in the Upper Midwest.
“This deanship, the first in NDSU’s history, is a catalytic milestone in advancing our work to build on our strengths as a student-focused, land-grant, research university,” NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani said. “We are extremely grateful to Ron and Kaye for making this endowment possible through their philanthropy.”
Dr. Scott Beaulier will become the inaugural holder of the Ronald G. and Kaye S. Olson Dean of the College of Business. A ceremony to formally install Beaulier as the Olson Dean of Business will be held in April, during the Foundation’s spring meetings.
Ron Olson graduated from NDSU in 1962 with a degree in economics. He is president of the Minnesota-based NTY Franchise Company, a family of resale franchise brands that include Clothes Mentor, Children’s Orchard and Device Pitstop. More than 200 stores are part of the NTY Franchise Company today. Olson’s other franchise holdings have included Play It Again Sports, Once Upon a Child and Plato’s Closet, which operate 1,200 stores nationally. Ron was the founder of both business ventures, which established him as a leader in resale business franchising.
The Olson’s have been involved with NDSU for more than 20 years. In 1995, Ron Olson was awarded the Foundation’s Alumni Achievement Award. He became a Trustee of the Foundation in 1997, eventually serving as chair of the Board of Trustees in 2011 and 2012. In 2015, Ron was awarded the Service Award, in recognition of outstanding service and support to the Foundation. Today, he serves among 23 campaign ambassadors, a group of NDSU advocates and philanthropists who are leading efforts to pursue a comprehensive, seven-year campaign with a goal in the range of $300 to $400 million. The campaign will be publicly launched this fall during NDSU Homecoming 2019.
“We are passionate about sound business principles and ideals that help small business owners be successful,” Ron said. “This fund will help to enhance teaching, discovery and outreach that will enable students to thrive in a dynamic and fast-changing business world.”
Beaulier said the Olsons’ gift is an extraordinary commitment in support of advancing the college’s mission and goals.
“This endowment will have a transformative impact on our students, programs and faculty,” he said. “With this source of sustained funding, we can invest in student scholarships, innovative teaching methods and unique learning experiences while also advancing discovery and outreach that help set our students apart in the ever-changing world of business.”
Establishing named faculty and administrative positions is a top philanthropic priority at NDSU. Investments in faculty - through fellowships, professorships and chairs - support excellence in teaching, research and service. Endowed deanships, such as the Olson Dean of Business, support the vision and goals established by college deans. Only one deanship can be established for each college, and the Ronald G. and Kaye S. Olson Dean of Business is the first at NDSU.
“Philanthropy is critical in our ongoing work to recruit and retain top administrators and faculty, to provide student scholarships and to enhance educational programming that supports our teaching, research and outreach mission,” said John Glover, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are grateful to Ronald and Kaye Olson for their visionary leadership and investment in the future of NDSU, its administrators and students.”
NDSU’s College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the highest distinction that business schools can achieve worldwide. The college offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs within the departments of Accounting and Information Systems, Management and Marketing, Transportation, Logistics and Finance.