While many people have supported the Carson College of Business over the years, very few can come close to duplicating the commitment of Mark Hansen (’84 Marketing), who has served the college and WSU for the last nine years at both the local and global levels.
While building a successful financial services career, he and his family spent significant time in Japan, where he became an advocate for the benefits of international business and a true believer in the value of international experiences for students.
Several years ago, after meeting David Sprott, senior associate dean, Hansen and his wife Laura (’85 Accounting) formed a close friendship and a connection to the faculty, students, and staff in the Carson College. Mark’s passion and experience with international business resulted in him chairing the International Advisory Board for the college’s National Board of Advisors (NBoA) and developing students’ professional perspectives and global mindsets.
Together, Mark and Laura were awarded the 2015 Dean’s Leadership Award, one of the college’s highest awards, presented to them at the Dean’s Leadership Celebration in November 2015. The award recognizes dedication and leadership in benefiting the college and other service to WSU.
“Not only is Mark a personal friend of mine, he is truly a friend of the college and one we can always count on,” said Sprott. “Our undergraduate international business program has ranked in the top 25 nationally for a very long time; there’s no doubt in my mind that our success is due to the involvement of committed, caring people such as Mark and Laura,” says Sprott.
“Laura and I were surprised and honored to receive the Dean’s Leadership Award,” says Hansen. “We never expected to be acknowledged with such a distinguished award for doing what has always felt natural—giving back to the institution that means so much to us. We are humbled by the recognition and appreciate it very much.”
In the last year alone, Mark served as the outgoing chair of the NBoA, was a senior member of the college strategic planning committee, a member of the WSU dean’s search committee who helped hire Dean Chip Hunter, and a judge for the college’s business plan competition in Switzerland, as well as the final competition in Pullman.
When he thinks back to when he was a student at WSU, he says he didn’t have a good sense of what he wanted to do once he graduated. He had a difficult time getting started after graduation.
“I eventually landed okay, and the early challenges I faced were largely due to a lack of preparation on my part,” he says. “I think all of us that are engaged with the college see a little of ourselves in our students, and we are inspired to help them realize their potential. Education and providing opportunities for students to learn in international environments speak to Laura and me.”
He encourages others to invest in a cause they believe in.
“No level of involvement is too small, and once you see the impact you can make, for example by talking to a student about their aspirations and opening your network to them, you will be inspired to do more,” he says. “The best thing about being a Coug is continued optimism for the future.”