CLU shifts biggest-ever gift to entrepreneurship center, scholarships

An artist’s rendering from 2018 of the proposed new building for the CLU School of Management. Funds for the building have been redirected.

In the
latest demonstration of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected philanthropy in
the region, California Lutheran University announced Jan. 20 that a major gift
to its School of Management will be repurposed to support entrepreneurship
programs and scholarships.

CLU President Lori Varlotta said Steve Dorfman, a retired technology and aerospace executive who had given the founding gift for a business school building, has agreed to redirect his original $6 million pledge to the new programs. The gift was announced in 2018 and is the largest in the university’s history.

Initially, $4.8 million will be deployed, $1.2 million of it to provide scholarships for undergraduate business students at the private Thousand Oaks university. The remaining $3.6 million will be used to establish a “Steven D. Dorfman Professorship in Practice of Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” to make equity investments in startups by CLU alumni or students and support the university’s New Venture Competition.

entrepreneurship center will be renamed for Dorfman and Mike Panesis, who
currently runs the program and will become the first Dorfman professor.

“The study
of entrepreneurship is still in its infancy,” Panesis said in a phone
interview. “This was the right thing to do at the right time.”

The grant
will be effective immediately, although Panesis said it will take time to form
an advisory council to help guide the investment.

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