Duane Madsen recently spent three weeks discovering his ancestors in Finland, homeland of his maternal grandparents. Now that he’s retired, Madsen’s greatest passion is genealogy, and he generally spends an hour a day on it. In addition to the relatives he discovered through research, the trip produced some unexpected discoveries. “On the boat from Sweden to Finland one night there was a lot of dancing and a lot conversation, and I met another couple that I’m related to,” he says.
Madsen spent his at career Goldman Sachs in San Francisco. “My greatest passion then was making money, and I was very good at it,” he says. He believes in hard work and rose at three a.m. for 25 years to put in long hours. “Those who are fortunate enough to be gifted mathematically have been blessed with a very valuable way of looking at the universe,” he says. “I’m clearly a numbers driven person.”
More recently, as chair of the UVU Foundation’s Investment Committee, Madsen headed up the effort to find a new firm to manage the Foundation’s investments. “I would say that our newest advisor, Nikita out of San Diego, is quite an outstanding firm. I think you will find that verified by the data as we move forward,” he says.
Asked why he would encourage others to join the Foundation Board, Madsen says, “It’s a strong board that’s getting stronger. I think this is going to be a fantastic ride, seeing the University succeed.”
“I think it’s pretty exciting what’s happening here,” says Madson. “The growth that’s occurring at the University is clearly remarkable. I think academically the University is surging.” UVU’s platform is more interesting in many ways than Brigham Young University’s, he says. BYU is more structured and less flexible, where UVU responds to the needs of the community. “I think UVU is a great institution, and I think its president has a vision that is in the process of being fulfilled.”
Madsen also likes the fact that UVU is willing to make an investment in young people even when they haven’t previously demonstrated academic potential. Most universities spend a lot of time evaluating how well a student did in high school, but that’s not necessarily an indicator of how well they will do in college, he says. “UVU will accept a lot of people who did not do well in high school, and some of those people will be huge academic surprises,” he says.
One of Madsen’s sons is currently attending UVU, considering a major in computer science. A second son previously attended, dabbling in a number of programs before heading to the BYU School of Accountancy. “I think he felt it was a good transition and a way to pick up some loose ends academically prior to getting deeply involved in the master’s in accounting program,” says Madsen.
In all, the Madsens have 10 children and 36 grandchildren scattered throughout the country. They also enjoy a six-acre berry farm in Mapleton, which boasts just about every kind of blackberry, raspberry and gooseberry extant.
Madsen’s commitment to higher education extends beyond UVU. He is a trustee of the State of Utah Educational Trust, a $2-billion fund for the public universities in the state—not including UVU, which didn’t exist when the fund was created. He chairs the Center for Law and Religious Studies at BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, and he’s a member of the president’s advisory committee at BYU.
Madsen is also an ecclesiastical leader of about 80 young people who run a summer camp at the Aspen Grove Family Camp & Conference Center in Provo. And he recently spent five years at the Missionary Training Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Provo, preparing missionaries to serve in Russia and Ukraine.