Paving Paths to Higher Education
PROVO, Utah – Aug 16, 2022 – When Richard Amon worked as the chief financial officer for the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE), he had an idea to set up an endowment fund for student support using the student-loan portfolio managed by his office. His work culminated in the passage of SB172 during the 2022 Utah legislative session, which created a $300 million endowment fund to provide scholarships for Utah students. Amon, who graduated from the MPA program at the BYU Marriott School of Business in 2005, continually strives to help students in their pursuit of higher education.
In January 2022 Amon left his position at USHE, and he now works as the vice chancellor of business affairs at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte), where he oversees the institution’s finances, budgets, and facilities. “Education is my passion, and even though I took a circuitous path to get here, I love working at a university, being surrounded by students, and finding ways to promote education and ensure student success,” he says.
“I come from a modest family background and attended lower-income public schools in northern Utah,” Amon continues. “When I was young, I never thought I would end up where I am today. Higher education was a door opener for me—especially the education I received at BYU.”
In 2002 Amon completed the first step on his higher education path by earning his bachelor’s degree in statistics from BYU. He worked as an actuarial associate for a year before realizing he wanted to pursue another path. “I’ve always had a soft spot for political philosophy and trying to solve problems that don’t have easy solutions, which prompted me to pursue a degree in public administration,” he says.
One problem Amon feels strongly about is barriers to obtaining higher education. He hopes Utah’s new endowment fund will lead to life-changing opportunities for prospective Utah students, especially those who don't traditionally have such opportunities. “I love being involved in projects that have the potential to change people’s lives,” says Amon. “I want to make college more affordable and show people how a higher education can positively influence their lives.”
More than a decade after Amon graduated from the MPA program, higher education continued to impact his own life. In 2019 he received a PhD in political science from the University of Utah. Shortly after graduating, Amon taught a public finance and budgeting class as an adjunct professor in the MPA program at the University of Utah.
Amon shares that he enjoyed teaching students the same skills he learned during his MPA studies—skills that have been critical for his current position at UNC Charlotte. “Most of my career has dealt with budgets and finances, and now I oversee all of the financial aspects for UNC Charlotte, so gaining a financial background at BYU Marriott was a big help.
“Other components of BYU Marriott’s MPA program that have served me well are the oral and written communication skills I learned,” he continues. “I have spent countless hours in front of legislative bodies, boards, trustees, and other groups. The ability to clearly articulate a purpose and relay information has helped me significantly in these situations.”
However, Amon says the best thing to come out of his time as a student at BYU Marriott was not the skills he learned but his marriage. Amon met his wife, Becki, in the MPA program, which she completed in 2006. Now the couple resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, with their two daughters, where they enjoy mountain biking and hiking.
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Sarah Calvert