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Gift from alumnus funds Haworth College career center

Nov. 16, 2007

KALAMAZOO--A $500,000 gift from a standout alumnus of Western Michigan University's Haworth College of Business will help launch a new career center to serve future generations of WMU business students.

Thomas M. Thornton, president and chief executive officer of Aerotek Inc., recently made the gift to support the new Haworth College of Business Career Service Center.

The center, due to open in 2008 in Schneider Hall, will consolidate job placement and internship activities for WMU business students and will focus on career preparation and job hunting skills, building relationships with potential employers, and enhancing every step of the interview process for both students and employers.

"I love the energy I see in the Haworth College of Business right now," said Thornton in explaining the reason for his gift. "I know the center will be a success."

Thornton, a Muskegon, Mich., native who graduated from North Muskegon High School, earned a bachelor's degree in business administration with a major in marketing from WMU in 1978. He now lives in Annapolis, Md., and has been president and CEO of the commercial and technical giant Aerotek since 2001.

A leader in technical and commercial staffing, the company is a component of the $5 billion Allegis Group Inc., the largest privately held staffing company in the world. Aerotek is now composed of six divisions and three subsidiaries: Aerotek Automotive, Aerotek Contract Engineering, Aerotek Scientific, Inprax, Aerotek Aviation, Aerotek Commercial, Aerotek Energy Services, Aerotek Engineering & Environmental and Aerotek Professional Services.

Thornton was inducted into WMU's Marketing Hall of Fame in 2006. The Hall of Fame honors alumni with outstanding professional accomplishments and a track record of extensive community service.

"Tom Thornton's gift will be enormously important in helping us move quickly to open the career center," says Dr. David Shields, dean of the Haworth College of Business. "He's a professional who recognizes the importance of making the recruiting and job-hunting experience efficient and seamless for both employers and students. Our new center will ensure that's the case at WMU."

Shields says the planned center will offer a range of services for students that will include resume and interviewing skill development and coaching on items that range from dress and dining etiquette to aligning students interests and aptitudes with potential careers.

For employers, he says, the center will offer the benefit of recruiting in a situation set up specifically for their needs, where there are few logistical impediments and where the quality of their interview schedule is guaranteed.

"There is an active competition among business schools to attract the most desirable employers to their campuses," Shields notes. "Most top employers strictly limit the number of schools they visit, to maximize their return on recruiting dollars. The most important factor is the top-to-bottom quality of their interview schedule. Employers will choose to interview at schools where virtually every interviewee is well qualified and ready to accept a good offer."

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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