By Jeff McClellan, ’94
WHEN representatives from General Motors Corp. (GM), EDS, and Sun Microsystems announced a major gift at BYU on Dec. 4, they anticipated gratitude. They did not expect a 39-second standing ovation from a crowd of thousands.
“I’m a little blown away by the standing O,” said Jerry Baut, of Sun Microsystems, to the audience that filled chairs, aisles, and hallways in and around the Wilkinson Student Center Ballroom. “We don’t get that all the time.”
Well, it’s not every day that BYU is treated to a $300 million performance, either.
The in-kind donation—which totals $313,884,754—represents the largest single gift ever given to a university by the trio of corporations, united in what they call PACE (Partners for the Advancement of CAD/CAM/CAE Education). It is also the largest gift ever received by BYU. In fact, prior to Dec. 4 the most money the university had raised in a single year was about $90 million. And the recent gift is just the tip of the PACE iceberg.
The donation comprised more than 2,200 software licenses with automatic upgrades. Still to come (and not counted in the $313 million total) is hardware, and there remains the possibility of funding for research projects.
“The new gift announced today will enhance even more the quality of BYU‘s learning environment,” said BYU president Merrill J. Bateman. “It will touch almost every student on campus. The gift will not only aid the College of Engineering and Technology but chemistry, physics, computer science, biology, fine arts, religious education, business, and almost every other program.”
The donation includes high-end design, engineering, and manufacturing software. In some cases the software is new to the university. In others, BYU owned very few copies; now it has hundreds. The programs are used by GM for designing, modeling, and testing cars, but they can also be used for design projects, ergonomic studies, and other applications. The gift will also enhance the university’s technical infrastructure, thus affecting the entire campus.
Clay A. Dean, ’02, one of two BYU graduates among the 16 design directors at GM, said the gift will increase BYU‘s already strong influence in the industry. “With this new investment of technology and tools and skills, I can imagine that in the next five years, we can double and triple the impact that BYU has in the design industry—not just the auto design industry but in the total industrial design field,” said Dean, who designed the new Hummer H2.
President Bateman said the most significant effects of the gift will come from the relationships that open doors for research collaboration, enhanced student experiences, and job opportunities for graduates. The corporations benefit as they help train future industry leaders, tap into academic research, and recruit top talent.
BYU became the 21st university to join PACE, which was formed in 1999. The program’s donation value as of Dec. 4 was more than $1.6 billion; BYU‘s gift represented nearly one-fifth of the total for all 21 schools.
“We know at BYU students from both disciplines (design and engineering) can work together to improve the creative process,” said Wayne Cherry, GM‘s vice president for design, who made the formal presentation of the gift. Cherry noted that BYU is the first university PACE has accepted based on the school’s collaboration between industrial design and engineering, a collaboration that has become essential in the automotive industry. “Because of this, we see Brigham Young as a role model for other schools.”