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ISU College of Business Receives Gift to Establish Idaho's First Named Sales Center

January 18, 2022

Michael C. Ruettgers, a 1964 College of Business graduate, has established the state's first-ever named Sales Center under his existing endowment.

The Idaho State University College of Business is thrilled to announce a transformative gift from the Michael C. Ruettgers Endowment that will result in the construction of the new Walter P. Brown Center for Sales Excellence.  

Located on the second floor of the business administration building, construction of the Walter P. Brown Center for Sales Excellence will take place in 2022 with a completion time estimated for the end of the fall semester. Over this time, the space will be transformed into a world-class sales facility.

According to College of Business Dean Dr. Shane Hunt, the space will be designed to provide students and sales professionals an area to develop their sales skills, enhance their personal brand, as well as construct, practice, and train for individual and team sales presentations, interviews and proposals. The Center will serve as a base for the College’s new and growing sales program.

In addition, Walter P. Brown Center for Sales Excellence will be launching the “Sales Talk” radio show will begin airing this March with host John Ney, College of Business marketing professor and Director of the Center for Sales Excellence and Professional Development. The monthly show will air on KISU-FM 91 and be available as a Podcast featuring interviews with leading sales executives as a means of providing insights to students in the program and sales professionals throughout the region. 

“This gift is the final cog in the wheel,” said Don Zebe, College of Business Sales Advisory Board Chairman. “[This gift] acts as the catalyst that will provide our students with the needed technology and training facility that will give our students the competitive advantage when entering the field of professional selling.”

Over the last 16 months, the College of Business has begun developing a sales program to help better serve the business industry’s need for sales-ready graduates. Last year, the College launched its three course, Professional Selling Certificate which is open to all students on campus. In addition, the College assembled an impressive Sales Advisory Board made up of prominent leaders in the sales industry from across the country including alumni like Don Zebe, Vice President of Brokerage Services at Colliers International and former NFL running back and best-selling author, Merril Hoge among five other sales executives.

“Sales is at the heart of modern business,” said Hunt. “Understanding and using the aspects of sales in order to improve for-profit business, not-for-profit organizations and students’ career prospects is a critical educational activity that will benefit students for years to come.”

“Much of my success came from companies that used direct sales as the keystone for their go-to-market strategy,” said Ruettgers. “So, I appreciate how important direct selling and the management of direct sales force are.”

Ruettgers, a 1964 Idaho State University graduate of marketing, earned his Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School and went onto become a distinguished Chief Executive Officer for the storage and software company, EMC Corporation (now part of Dell). While in his position, Ruettgers was named one of the top 25 Best CEOs in the World by Business Week magazine in the late 1990s for his work in pulling EMC out of near bankruptcy. This feat earned EMC recognition as “America’s Most Admired Company” by Fortune magazine in 2000.    

“I expect this program to produce the sales management professionals of the future,” Ruettgers said that he hopes graduates of this program will be in high demand for the technology industry.

Although this gift is part of the Michael C. Ruettgers Endowment, he chose to name it after his good friend, Walter. “I consider Walter Brown to be the leader in professional sales management training for enterprise sales,” said Ruettgers. “He helped me build EMC Corporation into the recognized world-leader in direct selling to enterprises. His influence continues to be felt today in the technology industry through ‘graduates’ of the company he consulted with.”  

Ruettgers noted that throughout his career and success, the College of Business has remained a North Star for him. “It helped me focus on my career and life goals.” He said this gift is meant as one way to honor that legacy and the impact his education at the College of Business had on his life.

“All of us in the Idaho State University College of Business are very thankful for Mike Ruettgers whose extraordinary support has made the Walter P. Brown Center for Sales Excellence possible for generations of students to come,” said Dean Hunt.   

Ruettgers’s gift comes one month after the announcement of his newly established Professorship in Marketing that was awarded to College of Business Dean, Dr. Shane Hunt by the University Interim Provost.


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