WSU is advancing Washington industries …
WSU teams with aviation to develop sustainable aviation biofuels …
WSU partners to develop bioproducts that reduce dependence on petroleum imports …
WSU works with state commodity commissions to conduct needed agricultural research …
WSU developed the technology used for wood-plastic composites used for buildings …
WSU researchers work to improve dairy productivity and reduce disease …
WSU research has made Washington one of the world’s most productive wheat-growing regions …

In the News

The Business of Education – WSU Regent Scott Carson shares his views on the value of higher education


Scott Carson is a proud alumnus of Washington State University as well as a highly successful business leader. Mr. Carson spent 36 years successful years at Boeing, where he served as CEO and President of Boeing Commercial Airplanes from 2006-2009. He is also serves as a Regent for WSU and he chaired the $1 billion fundraising campaign for the WSU Foundation. The WSU Carson College of Business was named after him last year and he, his wife, and children remain deeply devoted to the University and all of higher education. Below, Mr. Carson opines about the vital importance of higher education – great read for all of us in WSU Impact who care about the future of college access, affordability, and availability …

Scott Carson interview with Sarah Aitchison – Puget Sound Business Journal

When Scott Carson was pursuing his degree at Washington State University, he and his wife knew exactly how many semesters he could go to school before the money ran out. A couple of months before graduation, Carson’s counselor told him he didn’t have enough physical education credits to graduate. Carson couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t find any way to get around it until he met someone at WSU who was willing to waive the credits for him so he could move forward in his career.

The lessons he learned: Never turn your back on a young person, and always be willing to take risks on them. That experience and that message helped shape his philosophy. Carson spent more than 36 years working at Boeing Co. He also is a supporter of both WSU and the University of Washington. He serves on the board of regents at WSU, which recently renamed its business school the Carson College of Business.

What inspired you to get involved in education?
Probably my personal history. When I met my wife, I was working at Boeing. In 1970, there were huge layoffs at Boeing. When I got laid off, I told my then bride-to-be that I thought I would get my license and be a flight instructor. And she said on reflection, ‘Well you know, I understand why that might work for you, but it really doesn’t work for me.’ Having someone believe in you and take the risk, it really turned on the light because education really is important. So, not too long after we graduated, I started getting involved in higher education again. We have five kids and we encouraged them all to be Cougars. One of four (who went to business school) went to UW, but that’s quite all right. So for us to be involved just sort of became a natural thing, I believe.

Did you encourage your kids to follow a certain path?
No. They were all pretty focused. Our oldest daughter, the first one that went off to college, actually changed her major a couple of times while in school and ended up majoring in early childhood development. She’s a second level manager at Boeing in the human resources department. She teases me and says, ‘You know, having an education in early childhood development prepared me for working with Boeing managers.’ Each one of them chose a different path, but four of them in the college of business at various institutes.

What is the biggest challenge in training the next generation of business leaders?
If I were a new student, the biggest immediate challenge is affordability. From a business side, I think it’s producing young people that are not one-dimensional. Also, having a sense of the globality of business today — having some experience overseas is part of the educational process.

What kind of changes need to be made in business programs to create students who are multi-dimensional?
One size doesn’t fit all. Today you have more online programs that supplement in-classroom experience. Certainly we have the need for more scholarship dollars to allow kids to go and study abroad for a semester, which is a life-changing experience. So the old model ­­— being the one that I went to school in ­— is in a great deal of flux today. It’s important from a university perspective that you stay connected to the business community so you can address the needs that they have as they change.


Scott and Linda Carson are amazing leaders for WSU – here is Regent Carson (middle, crimson shirt) smiling broadly with the naming celebration for the WSU Carson College of Business.

Is WSU competing on an international scale?
The mission of WSU, we believe, is educating the home kids that are seeking a quality four-year education. Having said that, we also have an awful lot of kids from overseas, and frankly that has been a hallmark for us for a long, long time. I traveled extensively in my career. And it always tickled me when I’d check into a hotel in Iman, Jordan, and the person behind the counter had on a Cougar T-shirt.

What skills are most important from a business perspective?
Looking at a young person with a four-year degree in business, I think largely you assume the fundamental tools have been instilled. So what we end up looking for is what kind of presence does that individual have? Can they present themselves and their case in an articulate manner? Do they have an appreciation for other skill sets, or other cultures?

Do you consider yourself a role model?
I spent, when I was working, a great deal of time with young people talking to them in large and small groups. Not so much so I could show them the path to follow, which I think would be pretty presumptuous. But so I could try to listen to the concerns they had and share some of the mistakes that I’ve made in my career. The thing that so many companies are doing today is taking mid-career executives and putting them out into the educational environment as mentors. And that is really powerful, because young people will relate to someone who is maybe 29 to 31 a lot better than they relate to someone who is 65.

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