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2 decades of excellence in business education

W. P. Carey School celebrates 20th anniversary of endowment, welcomes 5 alums into hall of fame

Group of W. P. Carey School alumni wearing suits, smiling and making the ASU pitchfork sign with their hands.

From left: Ohad Kadan, Michael Crow, Chuck Michaels, Frederick Van Etten, Josh Elizetxe, Dallas Tanner and William P. Carey ll. Photo by Shelley Valdez

October 27, 2023

Editor’s note: This story is featured in the 2023 year in review.

In 2003, William Polk Carey announced a $50 million gift on behalf of the W. P. Carey Foundation to ASU’s College of Business.

Twenty years later, the W. P. Carey School of Business celebrated the 20th anniversary of Carey’s gift and the school’s naming with a celebration and event on Thursday, Oct. 26, where five alums were inducted into the W. P. Carey Alumni Hall of Fame.

Throughout the past two decades, W. P. Carey has transformed into one of the largest and top-ranked business schools in the country. The school has impacted business education on a global scale through mission-driven principles like entrepreneurial approaches to learning and research, and creating a better future through access, excellence and innovation.

At Thursday's event, Ohad Kadan, Charles J. Robel Dean and W. P. Carey Distinguished Chair in Business, addressed the school’s growth, including graduating over 125,000 students, achieving international MBA rankings, developing lifelong learning initiatives and launching undergraduate and graduate degree programs locally and globally to meet the changing needs of modern business education.

“As big as we are, we are also consistently competing with the best business schools in the world,” Kadan said. “None of this could happen without the support of all of you here in the room, and particularly without the incredible investment of the W. P. Carey Foundation, of which we are celebrating 20 years this evening. I am honored to be leading this school forward and to help write the next chapter of what is already an incredible story. I’m humbled to be surrounded by such a supportive community tonight.”

Over 250 alumni, faculty and staff gathered to celebrate the event, including featured speakers Michael M. Crow, president of the university; Regentwith the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) Larry Penley, professor and dean emeritus; and William P. Carey ll, chairman and president of the W. P. Carey Foundation. Amy Ostrom, vice dean, President’s Professor and the PetSmart Chair in Service Leadership, moderated the event.

Ricardo Vasquez, member of the W. P. Carey Foundation Board of Trustees; Nancy Gonzales, executive vice president and university provost; Morgan Olsen, ASU executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer; Christine Wilkinson, ASU senior vice president and secretary, and president and CEO of the ASU Alumni Association; Bob Mittelstaedt, dean emeritus; Gretchen Buhlig, CEO of the ASU Foundation; and Eric Spicer, vice president of the ASU Foundation, were also in attendance.

“Bill (Carey) was relentless in his focus to help us to be successful and to emerge as what we have now,” Crow said while presenting the keynote address. “Bill wanted to build a better country … a better democracy. Few things make a country a better place than a business school with tens of thousands of students coming here to learn capitalism, democracy and innovation. Bill Carey helped make that happen … and I thank Bill and the W. P. Carey Foundation because it’s been a fantastic run, and we have a lot more to go.”

Carey himself gave remarks at the event, saying, “Twenty years ago, we embarked on this mission to create this center of excellence in business education, and today, we stand in testament to that vision. ... The world of business is constantly evolving, and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead are immense. But it’s our responsibility to adapt, innovate and inspire the leaders of tomorrow.”

The event concluded with speeches from the hall of fame inductees. All five inductees — from various majors, industries and backgrounds — exemplify W. P. Carey’s mantra of “doing good while doing well” through their success in business and their contributions to their communities.

Read on to learn more about the inductees — and their advice for graduating Sun Devils.

Frederick Van Etten (’77 BS in business administration) boasts a remarkable 40-year career in the equipment finance industry. As the president of Midland Equipment Finance, a division of Midland States Bank, he has been instrumental in financing billions of dollars of equipment for commercial and industrial users, contributing significantly to the growth of the U.S. gross domestic product. His leadership and expertise have earned him recognition from the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association. In the past, Van Etten lobbied members of Congress on matters involving the equipment finance industry. Throughout his career, he has founded and co-founded four successful companies, taking one public in an initial public offering in 1997 before selling it to American Express in 2001. He was honored in the Sun Devil 100 Class of 2022 by the ASU Alumni Association.

“Be flexible, especially in today’s world. Where you start your career now is probably not where you will end up, especially with how quickly education and information are evolving," Van Etten said. "Be flexible, but continue to learn. I’m fortunate to have always been around people who have mentored me and urged me to learn new things. You have to continue to do that.”

Chuck Michaels (’83 BS in finance ) is a seasoned financial professional with almost four decades of experience advising individuals and families on asset allocation and wealth preservation strategies. He recently retired as vice president of the Private Wealth Management Division at Goldman Sachs in San Francisco after a successful 37-year career. He is also a dedicated member of the Board of Trustees of Arizona State University and, along with his wife, Chris, endowed the Charles and Christine Michaels undergraduate scholarship program at ASU 20 years ago. From humble beginnings, the scholarship program has grown significantly, and today, they are proud to assist more than 30 undergraduates every year with financial and mentoring support.

“Don’t take no for an answer. In my career, especially in sales positions, I got rejected 4,922 times in the first month," Michaels said. "You have to keep going and believe in yourself. Believe in the company you work for, believe in the product or service that you’re selling, and keep going when most people would give up.”

Dallas Tanner (’05 BS in finance, ’07 MRED) is the founder and CEO of Invitation Homes, a leading single-family rental industry pioneer. With over 20 years of real estate experience, he founded Treehouse Group in 2005, where he privately sourced funds for platform investments in single-family homes, multifamily properties, manufactured housing, residential land, bridge financing and property management. Tanner is a board member of Roots Management, a 40,000-plus manufactured housing platform operating in 22 states, and a member of several policy advisory boards, including the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and the Real Estate Roundtable. He's a Henry Crown Fellow and a founding member of W. P. Carey's Real Estate Advisory Board.

“Get outside your comfort zone and spend time with people that aren’t just like you," Tanner said. "If I have any regrets, I wish I had spent more time throughout my undergrad around people who didn’t think just like me.”

Ning Zhang (’15 DBA), founder of Shanghai Red Avenue Chemical Co. Ltd. and chairman of the board of Red Avenue New Materials Group Co. Ltd., is a leader of innovative development, a practitioner of national strategy, a pioneer of circular economy and a giver of social welfare. With over 20 years of experience in high-end phenolic resins, she has expanded Red Avenue New Material's business scope to include special materials for automobiles/tires, biodegradable materials and electronic materials. She has also established a national laboratory and research and development innovation center in Beijing and Shanghai, and built production bases with international standards in multiple countries. Her strategic acquisition of Kehua Microelectronics and Beixu Electronics marks a breakthrough in China's chip industry. Additionally, her cooperation with chemical giant BASF to develop biodegradable materials demonstrates her commitment to sustainable development. Zhang is also the founder and honorary chairman of Red Avenue Foundation, which focuses on sustainable development, education, health care and other fields, supporting over 100 charity projects and benefiting millions.

Zhang was unable to attend the event. In her acceptance speech, read by Pei-yu “Sharon” Chen, Department Chair of Information Systems and Red Avenue Foundation Professor, Zhang said, “I’m very honored to be inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame, and I will continue to make an effort to serve our communities and our world better.”

Young Alumni Inductee

Josh Elizetxe ('13 BS in computer information systems) is a serial entrepreneur, innovator and investor who aims to make a difference by spreading knowledge and creating opportunities. As the chairman of Snow Oral Care, he bootstrapped the teeth-whitening company in his early 20s to an incredible $100 million in sales. With an impressive investment portfolio in multiple industries, as well as and, his impact on the business world is undeniable. He is also the founder of numerous other companies, including Frost Smile Care, Dealflow Brokerage, Giving Society and, most recently, in partnership with La La Anthony, one of the fastest-growing hair care brands online, INALA. He is a mentor and trustee of the Fleischer Scholars Foundation.

“The sky's the limit. Whatever you’re thinking in terms of your opportunities and potential, multiply it by 10, and get comfortable there," Elizetxe said. "Don’t be afraid to think big. Be willing to pivot but stay focused on your dreams, and make sure those dreams are bigger than the worries that come with them so you can have the best opportunities and life possible.”

See all W. P. Carey Alumni Hall of Fame inductees from when the honor was established in 1977. The current list of 105 inductees ranges in professions — from an NFL president to Fortune 500 executives, with graduation years from 1947 to 2015.

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