Former Student Inspired by Professor Creates Assistantship in the School of Business

May, 2019
Donor Ben Gilbert pictured with his family.

May 6, 2019—As a student in the School of Business, Ben Gilbert (’98, Business Administration) worked alongside Professor Peter Kenyon to develop one of the first online courses used in the Business program.

Today, Ben is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and co-owns the Silver Oak Advisory Group, a small financial planning firm based out of Portland, Oregon. He says his experience with Emeritus Professor Kenyon gave him the tools he needed for his professional career. In fact, this collaborative opportunity was so transformative that Ben chose to honor Prof. Kenyon by establishing the Dr. Peter Kenyon Assistantship Fund in the School of Business.

“Being able to collaborate with him outside of the classroom provided me with practical knowledge that set me apart from my peers in the job market. He was truly interested in my growth and success,” says Ben.

Prof. Kenyon fondly recalls their collaborative mentorship. “We had a great working relationship. Ben was focused and easy going. You could see he was up for the challenge. At the time, he was ahead of the game in terms of computer technology, and was able to teach professors about emerging tools in the field. He became a valuable asset to the faculty.”

Ben’s permanently endowed assistantship will enhance teaching and learning by providing paid opportunities for students working on joint projects with faculty in the School of Business. The assistantship will fund one student per year with a $2,000 stipend. Endowments work by investing a donor’s contribution long-term, using only the income generated each year to provide awards in perpetuity.

Ben hopes the assistantship will extend collaborative learning opportunities to the next generation of students. “I benefited from being able to work with Dr. Kenyon on a project as a student, and I’d like to see other students have a similar experience.”

Last year, while hiking along a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail, Ben reflected on how important this mentorship was to his life and career. “I had a lot of time to think while I was backpacking. I thought about how fortunate I was to work alongside Dr. Kenyon. My assistantship was central to being able to afford college.”

“Ben is giving me credit, but my story is not unique,” offers Prof. Kenyon. “Many other faculty members were doing similar projects. HSU gave us flexibility in our approach to teaching, and we used it to provide students with an early professional experience. That kind of collaboration gives students confidence and a leg up— that’s why assistantships like this are so valuable.”

The assistantship will be available to graduate and undergraduate students, with a preference given to projects that use innovative technology across business-related disciplines. “College is a unique time,” says Ben, “and it’s important to have someone on your side pushing you to grow.”

Prof. Kenyon is humbled by Ben’s choice to name him with this gift. “To have someone come back and honor you this way, I couldn’t think of a more rewarding event in my professional career.”

Ben’s gift is more than an act of generosity— it’s an act of gratitude. “Peter Kenyon was a great professor, and is a great man, and I feel privileged to be able to honor him and help other students afford college by working on projects that have real world applications.”

If you would like to join Ben in supporting the School of Business, you can make a gift here. If you have questions about giving, or would like to learn about other ways to support HSU students, visit, email the Office of Philanthropy at, or call 707.826.5200.