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Provo • Celanese Corp. CEO David Weidman and his wife, Rachel, have donated $10 million to endow a center to provide global leadership training for engineering students at Brigham Young University.
Alan Parkinson, dean of BYU's Fulton College of Engineering and Technology, Thursday announced the creation of the Weidman Center for Global Leadership. The center will train engineering and technology students in leadership and how to function in a global economy.
"But it is not for economic reasons alone that the center has been formed," Parkinson said. "The challenges facing humankind in energy, sustainablility, security, water resources and infrastructure all require leaders with deep technical skills who can work across national boundaries."
Parkinson said he and Weidman, a member of the college's advancement board, discussed the proposed center 15 months ago. As the idea evolved, Parkinson popped the big question: Would Weidman be willing to give $10 million to get it off the ground?
Weidman said he fully supported the vision of the center.
"It is truly a golden period of time, but the dynamics of the world are dramatically different," Weidman told engineering students assembled in the de Jong Concert Hall. "I would love to exchange positions with you with the opportunities in the world today."
Weidman said when he graduated from BYU with a degree in chemical engineering in 1978, national borders were firm, communication was slow and engineers were valued for their technical expertise.
Today's engineers need to be able to lead teams and understand how to work with people around the world if they want to remain on the cutting edge, he said.
"It is essential, it is a requirement that we distinguish ourselves and learn to be skilled, capable and talented in leadership, as well as maintain the strengths we have in global technology," Weidman said.
The next step is hiring a director for the center and providing more opportunities for BYU engineering students to study abroad, Parkinson said. He said the university currently sends 100 engineering students overseas for study projects.