This archived article was written by: C. Josie Luke
With hopes of creating a new revenue stream for the College of Eastern Utah, Dr. Charles Foust, previously provost and vice-president for academic and student affairs, has taken a new position as executive vice-president for enterprise development.
Foust explains, “The president [Ryan Thomas] spoke with me several timesover the past year and we came to the conclusion that the money that the state gives us and the tuition we charge are not enough to pay the bills for the kinds of things we’d like to do.”
To do this, Foust said that they need to find a third way of generating income. He revealed that Thomas has a lot of contacts with potential investors as well as with people who are in business who need investors. “So what we’re doing is bringing people who have money to invest, such as insurance companies and private investors, together with people who have businesses to invest in and as we bring them together and work out these arrangements, we ask for a percentage of the ownership. That percentage in several of these could start adding up to a good bit of money for the college.”
Foust continued that the president is the key to all of this because he has a law degree as well as a Ph.D. So he is really the one who knows all of the legal ramifications and what would be most tax-advantageous for the investors and the business owners, and he is “teaching me as fast as he can”.
“It’s his [Thomas’] idea, it’s his thinking and it’s his experience and contacts that have made this possible, but he came to the conclusion over the past year, after we had talked numerous times, that he couldn’t do all of this by himself and be president of the college. So by moving Cliff Coppersmith in as academic vice-president, moving student affairs back to Brad King, who had been in that role for a number of years before, and moving me into this, he still has to supervise, but he doesn’t have continued from front page
to do all the work by himself,” Foust clarified.
Foust’s educational experience is extensive, beginning with three degrees from Ohio State: a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and English education, a master’s degree in educational administration and a Ph.D. in early and middle childhood education. He also has attended education and business short courses at Harvard, Oxford, Chicago, the University of Kentucky, and North Western University.
He began his work in education in the Columbus, Ohio public schools, where he continued for eight years as a teacher and administrator. He went on to teach in higher education in two private schools, Mercer University and Wesleyan College and from there into public higher education. He served as associate dean in Pennsylvania, a dean in Minnesota, and provost and academic vice-president once again in Pennsylvania. He arrived at CEU four years ago.
Describing his experience that qualifies him for the position, Foust said, “I’ve been in higher education for 30 years and I was in public education before that. I’ve always had some business interests. For almost 15 years I ran a subchapter S corporation, which means a small company that is incorporated, but that doesn’t have as many shareholders, to take people to study in Europe. I’ve always been interested in business. I’ve subscribed to the Wall Street Journal since I was 16 and read Barron’s and several other business publication regularly. Even as a provost and vice-president, I’ve always thought in a business-like way, so it’s something related to a lot of my interests and I’m enjoying it.
Foust explained that the purpose for this switch is “two fold”. The first and major purpose is to develop a third revenue stream to bring money into the college so that the college can be expanded, employees can be better paid and students can be scholarshipped “to a greater extent”. The second interest is that some of the enterprises can be taken advantage of by creating educational programs from them, especially in the field of energy.
One of the businesses that they are focussing on is creating natural gas wells. Foust said that we live in “coal country” and “where you find coal, you find natural gas. What we want to do is use that natural gas by developing it and selling it to other people. We have natural gas leases from individuals and from the state that would allow us to develop several thousand acres of natural gas fields.”
This would also be positive, he explained, because “the college wants to develop more energy programs, that is, more programs to teach students how to work in natural gas and oil fields. So it would have an academic benefit to it, but also would bring in more money.”
Foust also described apartment complexes and commercial real estate projects in which Enterprise Development is currently involved, as well as a process for returning water found in the natural gas wells into usable agricultural irrigation water.
“If we had plenty of money and the economy were really strong here, we probably would have never gotten into this, but ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ and because we don’t have adequate resources, we had to think of some other way to accomplish our objectives.”