Marshall Larsen first learned leadership skills as a student at the U.S. Military Academy, and later honed those skills as a longtime executive with Goodrich Corp. He is, again, giving back to his alma mater to ensure business school students likewise learn leadership skills that prepare them for the future.
Larsen and his wife Susan’s additional $10 million gift serves as the lead gift in Purdue’s recent announcement of a new School of Business and will fund the initiative that bears their name, the Larsen Leaders Academy (LLA), in perpetuity.
When Larsen first came to Purdue in the 1970s, he didn’t know “anything about business,” he says. He left the university “with a darn good education in business.”
“I looked at several schools for my graduate degree, and Purdue had the only program that would allow me to finish in a year. It was also geared for people with a technical background, like my engineering degree from West Point, so it just made a lot of sense,” he says of his master’s degree in industrial administration.
Indeed, Larsen has demonstrated leadership and business acumen throughout his career. He joined Goodrich after graduation as a financial analyst and went on to serve in positions of increasing responsibility at the company. He was elected vice president of Goodrich and group vice president of Goodrich Aerospace in 1994 and was named the executive vice president, president and chief operating officer of the aerospace division in 1995.
During his tenure at Goodrich, Larsen was named one of the “100 best-performing CEOs in the world” by Harvard Business Review. He received the Krannert Business Leadership Award, the school’s highest honor, in 2022.
Building on his commitment to leadership, Marshall and Susan established the Larsen Leaders Academy in 2018. The initiative is dedicated to taking students on a transformational leadership journey that involves coursework and immersive experiences unique to undergraduate education. Students learn to think critically, communicate, and collaborate as they develop self-awareness through emotional intelligence and search for meaningful purpose.
“When we initially funded Larsen Leaders Academy, we wanted to help round out students and give them an opportunity to hone their leadership and personal skills before they get out of Purdue,” Larsen says. “Our most recent gift will help expand the number of students it serves, ensure future funding, and pay for learning journeys they can’t find at other schools. We think it fits perfectly with the vision for the new Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business.”
Thanks to the Larsens’ generosity, students now have the opportunity to participate in one of many life-changing capstone trips to learn from best-in-class leaders, including visiting Gettysburg to explore leadership, strategy, and parallel thinking; the Kennedy Space Center to study risk and decision making at NASA; Yosemite National Park to experience leadership vulnerability while braving the wilderness; and the European Theatre during WWII to learn humility, humanity, and resolve.
“We need to help today’s students prepare themselves to lead,” Larsen says. “It’s about more than academics. It’s about experiential learning and engagement.”