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Huntsman Chemical Corp. chairman Jon M. Huntsman announced Tuesday morning that his firm is giving Utah State University $1 million to build a new environmental research center.

Huntsman also announced a gift from his company of $500,000 toward the renovation and reconstruction of the Alumni Center, which will be known as the David B. Haight Alumni Center, in honor of Huntsman's father-in-law, Elder David B. Haight, a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.At a press conference to announce the $1 million research gift, Huntsman said the preservation of the environment is the single most important issue in the world. He pledged his company will continue to support the research center annually with funds and, he said, "Huntsman Chemical Corp. scientists and researchers will work closely with researchers at the new USU facility toward helping our environment to become cleaner and safer."

USU President Stanford Cazier said the new Huntsman Environmental Research Center "will work closely with the chemical company and will employ university teachers and students in a variety of research efforts, both basic and applied, in the areas of recycling, waste biodegradation, clean air and water and the rehabilitation of forests, range lands, streams and wildlife."

Cazier said the new research facility will have its headquarters in the Science and Engineering Research Building on campus. "Larry Piette, associate vice president for research and dean of the the School of Graduate Studies, will be its interim director."

He said he hopes the new facility can get additional state and federal funds, "as it has an excellent opportunity to become an Environmental Protection Agency regional center for environmental research."

Huntsman said he and his family "and our industry and employees have, over the years, been sensitive to the issue of how much the environment is presently at risk. There is nothing more important than a clean, wholesome and pure environment."

He said USU was chosen to receive the $1 million gift because it is one of the world's great environmental research facilities and has an ideal campus and an ideal faculty.

"This is only the beginning," he said. "We plan to announce other one-time gifts to fund university projects and additional gifts to establish other research centers elsewhere. And we plan to establish more centers of excellence."

Huntsman said the USU center "will touch the world."

Tuesday evening, 300 dignitaries and friends of Elder Haight attended a special Presidential Citation Dinner at the Taggart Student Center to honor the LDS apostle.

Cazier announced Huntsman's gift of $500,000 will be added to $300,000 that has been raised by the university's Development Office to renovate and reconstruct the Haight Alumni Center.

"With the generous gift from Huntsman Chemical Corp., we will be able to complete the project by adding the second phase" which includes an adjoining banquet and reception hall that will seat 100 for a served dinner and will be the most elegant meeting place in northern Utah.

More than half a dozen friends and relatives paid tribute to Elder Haight at the special dinner.

His boyhood friend, George Romney, former governor of Michigan and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said: "I'm convinced the key to Elder Haight's success and the contributions he has made are that he was prepared and he did every job well."

Cazier said: "If his career in business alone were considered, David B. Haight would be one of Utah State University's most distinguished alumni. As an executive of Montgomery Ward, ZCMI and other companies, he displayed a remarkable business acumen, based on good management principles and wise human relations skills.

"But as he has achieved in his business, he also distinguished himself further through service to his community, through civic leadership and church callings."

Cazier said Elder Haight had served two terms as mayor of Palo Alto, was a governor of the San Francisco Bay Area Council of Mayors, a Red Cross campaign chairman, blood bank director and director of Standford-Palo Alto Hospital and Channing House Retirement Center.