Alumni and long-time donors Richard and Joyce Ten Haken are donating $1 million toward a new School of Business and Economics building project at Michigan Technological University.
They have also announced plans to give another multi-million dollar gift through their estate, to support SBE infrastructure, faculty and students.
“A building would be a clear signal to the University and the world about the importance of the School of Business and Economics,” Ten Haken said on a visit to campus last month.
The Ten Hakens both earned BS in Accounting degrees from Michigan Tech in 1970. Richard graduated in four academic years, while Joyce graduated in three calendar years. Last year, they established two Faculty Fellows in the School of Business and Economics. The couple has also been supporting scholarships for SBE students for nearly 20 years.
"Everyone associated with the School of Business needs a great space of their own to work and study."
“There’s a huge need for a state-of-the-art building for the School of Business and Economics,” Ten Haken said. “It would help maintain AACSB accreditation, which only 5 percent of business schools achieve, and recruiting outstanding faculty and students. It would enhance the overall education of all students at Michigan Tech.”
Engineers and scientists need to learn to interact with business people, he explained. “If an engineer or a scientist comes up with a great product, it’s not going to come to market without business know-how,” he said. “They need to learn to talk business language, to understand business concepts.”
A Source of Identity
A building provides a source of identity, Ten Haken went on to say. Many students in other disciplines don’t even know that Michigan Tech has an outstanding School of Business and Economics, he said.
“Joyce and Richard have worked hard in their careers,” said Tech President Glenn Mroz. “It’s not only an honor to everyone at Michigan Tech that they attribute part of their success to the time they spent here, but they have made giving back a priority. They've been generous with their scholarships over many years and now have taken a lead role to enable the School of Business to advance as a significant part of the University's strategic plan.”
The Ten Hakens look back very fondly on their time at Michigan Tech. They were high school sweethearts, coming from the same small town in Wisconsin. Richard came to Tech to study engineering, but “I hit my first calculus class and decided that wasn’t for me,” he laughs. He switched to business because his fiancé—now wife—was interested in accounting and both his father and her father were business executives. He transferred to a Wisconsin college—for two weeks. “I hated it. I missed Michigan Tech,” he said. “So I came back.”
Richard and Joyce married while they were at Tech and moved to Daniell Heights Apartments. “We lived on a lot of macaroni and cheese,” he recalled. Then he got an Air Force ROTC scholarship, and that helped get him through to his degree.
During Air Force ROTC, he became interested in flying and spent more than nine years as an Air Force pilot. He then flew as a commercial airline pilot for more than 27 years. Joyce used her accounting education to pursue a career as a certified public accountant. At the time, she was one of the few females in the accounting field and was a pioneer in “breaking the glass ceiling” in that profession. She became a partner fairly early in her career and now owns the largest CPA firm in Yuba City, California, where the Ten Hakens live.
Ten Haken ‘s personal philosophy explains his dedication to supporting education. “There are three pillars of a successful life,” he said: faith, family and education.”
The couple has just celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary. “We feel very blessed,” he said. “We’ve had rewarding and great careers, a wonderful marriage and good health, and we want to share those blessings.”
Yuba City Police Volunteer
Richard already shares his blessings with his Yuba City community. He volunteers 50 hours a month with the Yuba Police Department, “taking care of what I can so the officers will be free to do what only they can.” His favorite assignment is traffic control. “I put on my bright yellow vest and help direct traffic at accidents, fires, community events,” he explained. In the past, he has served as treasurer and school board chair at his church.
But Michigan Tech and its SBE hold a special place in the Ten Hakens’ hearts. “I feel I received an excellent education from Michigan Tech and am highly competitive with any graduate of any university, regardless of size,” said Joyce. “Everyone associated with the School of Business needs to have a great place to work and study. They need a place of their own that they can identify with.”
Dean Johnson, dean of Tech’s School of Business and Economics, expresses his gratitude this way: “Mix high-school sweethearts, two SBE educations, diligent work and a deep passion for Michigan Tech, and what you get is Joyce and Richard Ten Haken. The SBE has been blessed with their support of student scholarships and named faculty positions. Today we are extremely grateful to accept their support for their deepest passion, a modern facility to attract and house faculty and students pursuing the intersection of business, technology and innovation.”
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, the University offers more than 125 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.