When Andy Anderson thinks about his success, he immediately traces it back to his main mentor.
For Andy, his father Lee has been an adviser, tutor and best friend. When it came to business, Lee’s nuggets of wisdom and advice always resonated.
“He really created that gut instinct for me, especially in business,” Anderson said. “He told me ‘You may have eight to 10 life-changing opportunities cross your desk in your lifetime. Your job is to recognize those opportunities. Some you’ll see and some you won’t. But your job is to recognize those.’ Giving to Regis is one of those.”
Anderson, the president and CEO of Nor-Son Inc., a construction services firm in Minnesota, has given the largest gift in University history. Thanks to his $10 million donation, his name adorns the Anderson College of Business.
Anderson said he hopes the gift will encourage other alumni whose lives have been transformed by Regis to support the University. Anderson recently sat down with Regis Magazine to discuss the gift, his life in business and what he thinks a Jesuit business school can be.
First things first. Why give this gift to Regis?
My father was a West Point grad, so I’ve been around the leadership model all my life. It was important for me to act from a leadership role beyond just being co-chair [of the current capital campaign and a trustee]. From a dollar standpoint, I needed to set an example. When you consider sizable gifts in a campaign, the last shoe and first shoe to drop are the hardest ones to get. To have the most impact, I knew I needed to get this kick-started.
What can the Regis University Anderson School of Business become?
I think the 50,000-foot view is it can be the one of the best business schools anywhere someday. I want it to be one of the top-rated business schools in the country someday.
How do Jesuit values play into that?
That’s what really excites me. I believe a business school based around Regis and the Jesuit values are what is needed in the business world. We need people who know how to treat people and how to do business. Business today doesn’t have to be cutthroat. It has to be fair. It has to be fair for both sides. Integrity and morals can be in business. It is in business. From the values Regis has built itself upon the last 140 years, we have the opportunity to have a tremendous business school.
How did Regis shape who you are? How do Jesuit values play into your business?
It transformed me to who I am today, especially in business. I think when you look at business or in life, everyone has their own control over their integrity. It’s one of most important assets you’ll have. You need to protect your integrity over everything you have. If you lose that, it’s hard to make up to friends or in business.
You helped grow your family’s banking business and sold your own in 2008. Why step away from the financial sector and enter the construction business?
I love the entrepreneurial spirit and building things. I tell my kids all the time there is no greater feeling than success. Success doesn’t always mean making money. It could mean getting an A on a test or riding a bike without training wheels. I just really enjoy that process. This allowed me to take on something new and build on that success.
Where is the Anderson School of Business in five years?
Hopefully, we’re talking about great success. We’re hearing success stories from graduates and where they’ve found great jobs. Mostly, we want to be talking about what our graduates are doing to give back. This has really been a surreal experience. I’m honored, humbled and proud to do this. Regis is a real destination. Let’s grow it bigger and better.