Loyola Marymount University’s (LMU) College of Business Administration received a $5 million endowment for its nationally ranked Center for Entrepreneurship on September 12th.

The center was renamed for its founder, LMU professor Fred Kiesner, per the donor’s wishes.

“This generous gift will guarantee that Fred Kiesner’s legacy — this highly regarded and nationally recognized program — will continue to inspire and train the business leaders of tomorrow,” said Dennis Draper, dean of the College of Business Administration.

Kiesner joined the LMU faculty in 1974, and taught one of the country’s first entrepreneurship courses. The professor remembers encountering resistance to the idea of entrepreneurial studies as an academic discipline.

“In fact, a number of faculty members tried to get me fired, saying that this was not a suitable subject for a liberal arts college,” he recalled. “I treated it as an entrepreneurial venture in the academic arena, and I showed them results.”

Kiesner earned his doctorate in management and education at Claremont Graduate University in 1984. The Small Business Administration, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, among others, have recognized him for his work.

He was voted teacher of the year 11 times by the students in the College of Business Administration, and in 2004, the professor earned the university’s highest teaching honor, the Fritz Burns Distinguished Teacher Award.

Some of Kiesner’s former students have paid tribute to their former professor’s classroom abilities.

“He gave me an opportunity. He has also done this for so many thousands of students over the decades, both before and after me — to learn and see the world with all its disappointment and wonder,” said Ron Valenta, whose family created the $5 million endowment in Kiesner’s name. “His passion embodies the true entrepreneurial spirit of the United States.”

The undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurship programs in the College of Business Administration were named among the nation’s top 25 programs this year by the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine’s sixth annual Top 50 Entrepreneurial Colleges.

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