Ashton Leadership Endowment

The Ashton Leadership Endowment was established by Alan and Karen Ashton in 2006 to benefit Utah Valley University students participating in the Center for Advancement of Leadership program.
Alan C. Ashton, co-founder of WordPerfect Corporation, was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 1966 he graduated magna cum laude from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s’ degree in mathematics. He immediately began working on his doctorate in the newly established Computer Science Department at the University of Utah, under the tutelage of such notable computer scientists as David Evans, Ivan Sutherland, and Elliott Organick.

After receiving his Ph.D. in 1970, Ashton began a 14-year career as a professor of computer science at Brigham Young University. His dedication to assisting students in their educational endeavors prompted the graduating class of 1986 to nominate him as the Outstanding Professor of the Year. It was also during his tenure as a professor that he met Bruce Bastian, his co-founder in developing WordPerfect.

WordPerfect evolved from an idea Ashton conceived as a graduate student in 1969. He submitted two options for computer research projects to his professors, one involving music and the other involving word processing. His professors opted for the music project. It wasn’t until 1978, almost nine years later, that he dusted off his second idea and began working with Bastian on what would become the world’s best-selling word processing software.

In 1987 Ashton left BYU to serve full time as the president and CEO of WordPerfect Corporation. That same year he was named the Entrepreneur of the Year by the Small Business Association of Utah. By 1993 WordPerfect Corporation had more than 5,000 employees worldwide and more than $700 million in revenue. In 1994 WordPerfect was acquired by Novell Inc.

Karen Ashton grew up in Murray, Utah, and attended BYU. She started the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival to bring people together and foster community and family values. The festival is now one of the largest storytelling festivals in the west. She has served on the board of the Orem Public Library, the UVU Board of Trustees, the Primary Children’s Hospital board, the Shakespearean Festival board of governors, the BYU Museum of Art board, and the BYU President’s Leadership Council.

The Ashtons co-founded Thanksgiving Point in 1995 in Lehi, Utah, as an expression of gratitude for all that they received in the years with WordPerfect. Karen was instrumental in creating the many theme gardens. They were awarded the Utah Philanthropic Leadership Award in 2007, the Friends for Sight People of Vision Award in 2008, and the Pillar of the Valley Award in 2012.