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Utah State University Combines Commercialization, Advancement Offices

Wednesday, May. 29, 2013

Rob Behunin

In administrative restructuring, USU will combine the offices of commercialization and university advancement to be led by Rob Behunin, the new vice president for university advancement and commercialization.

Utah State University is reorganizing its commercialization and advancement activities to increase efficiencies and strategic opportunities by leveraging leadership, talent and successful efforts already in place.

A new structure will be put in place that will combine USU’s offices of commercialization and university advancement. Rob Behunin, vice president for commercialization and regional development, will lead those efforts as the new vice president for university advancement and commercialization.

Bringing advancement and commercialization under one vice president will provide a host of new opportunities for both operations as USU continues to position itself strategically to meet the challenges of an ever-changing economic landscape, according to USU President Stan L. Albrecht.

“Exciting things continue to develop at Utah State,” Albrecht said. “Dr. Behunin’s instincts, innovative approaches and team-building skills have produced positive results in our commercialization and USTAR efforts over a short period of time, and we are asking him to apply those same efforts to our advancement activities.”

Behunin will continue to be responsible for commercialization, USTAR, regional development, and will add to that advancement and alumni relations. Marketing and public relations will continue to report to the president’s office.

USU completed its first comprehensive campaign in October 2012, resulting in more than $500 million.

“Behunin’s task will be to build on that and position the university for the next phase of its development efforts,” Albrecht said. “We need to keep moving forward and keep ahead of the curve.”

Behunin said he is no stranger to the world of university advancement and that he relishes the opportunity to dedicate a major portion of his time to advancement efforts.

“Advancement has always been close to my heart,” said Behunin. “Seven of my ten years at USU have been largely advancement and community development oriented, and I have built strong ties and relationships with many of our donors and friends of the university. I look forward to dedicating more time to cultivating those relationships in a broader fashion.”

This restructuring would not be possible without a solid commercialization team that will be taking on more responsibilities, Behunin said.

“This is the best team I have ever worked with, and we will continue moving commercialization forward at its current pace,” he said.

Behunin said his approach to the new structure will be a portfolio methodology, aligning a variety of stakeholders and assets to create a strong, cohesive unit. One innovative way to create new opportunities for advancement and commercialization, for example, is to match private enterprise with university know-how and then fold in alumni and donors.

Albrecht said that in an era when higher education is constantly challenged to be innovative in the way it approaches students and course delivery, it is equally important that a university is innovative in the way it strives to engage external stakeholders and generate new revenue streams.

“I appreciate President Albrecht’s vision and approach in combining the two units,” said Behunin. “I fully recognize that advancement and commercialization have very distinct roles, but I also know that there are extraordinary leveraging capabilities and new opportunities for success by aligning the two operations.”

Behunin went on to say that he is committed to preserving the traditions associated with university advancement — and maybe even creating some new ones.

Behunin, born in California and raised in Cedar City, completed his undergraduate work at Southern Utah University and obtained a doctorate in medieval and renaissance literature from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Before joining USU in 2003, Behunin taught English, humanities and Spanish at SUU for nine years, was a tenured faculty member and served as the executive director of Distance Education.

Now in his 10th year at Utah State, Behunin has been able to forge critical partnerships by aligning a variety of stakeholders and assets to move the university forward. While serving as special assistant to the USU president in the Uintah Basin, Behunin formed private, community and industry alliances in the Uintah Basin that led to nearly $100 million of combined investment in USU’s Uintah Basin Regional Campus.

Since his appointment as vice president of commercialization in 2011, USU’s commercialization portfolio has grown significantly under his leadership. Behunin and his team are responsible for USU’s inductively-powered Aggie Bus, a clean coke technology project at USU Eastern, and STORM, USU’s severe weather sensor. External investment in these three projects alone now stands at over $150 million.

Though not teaching, Behunin is a tenured, full-professor of English at USU.

Behunin serves as a member of Governor Herbert’s Energy Task Force, is board member of the Governor’s Economic Development Council and is in his second term as a Judicial Conduct Commissioner.

Related links:

USU Commercialization and Regional Development

USU’s University Advancement

Contact: Tim Vitale, 435-797-1356,

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