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$2 million donation will establish center for economic development

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Ryan Konrad
Staff Writer

The University of La Verne received a $2 million donation from regional real estate developer and philanthropist Randall Lewis for the establishment of the Randall Lewis Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Social Impact, which will focus on economic development and opportunities for ULV and the surrounding communities.

The new center will take up residence on the first floor of the College of Law in Ontario and will be operational starting Fall 2021.

“Mr. Lewis believes very strongly that when he makes a gift to the University of La Verne, it has an impact that doesn’t necessarily have in some of the other places that he supports,” said Sherri Mylott, vice president of university advancement.

 The center will host programs and training sessions that supplement existing curriculum at the University.

 “The entrepreneurship program, students who want to think about doing their own startups, their own businesses, will certainly be always welcome to the curriculum of the center,” said Mylott.

The center will provide resources to traditional undergraduates in applying theory to practice in real world applications.

“The Lewis Center is an opportunity for our academic programs, from a variety of disciplines, to think about ways to engage with that center, to supplement and to bring in a kind of an experiential education approach to their curriculum,” said Brian Clocksin, interim vice provost for strategic health initiatives.

The center will also provide opportunities to develop skills across disciplines, said Clocksin.

“We are trying to prepare students for not only jobs that exist now, but the jobs that will exist in the future, thinking in a way that’s entrepreneurial, whether you are a theater major, or a physics major, or a business major is going to be a skill set that we want our students to have,” Clocksin said.

The center’s purpose outside of academics is to engage students and the larger community, said President Devorah Lieberman.

“We have to keep our mind and our efforts focused on how we graduate students who best serve our communities and their communities professionally, personally, socially, and how can we create programming that serves our community,” said Lieberman.

Plans to develop a center focusing on entrepreneurship and innovation were in existing conversations among community members and the Board of Trustees before Lewis’s donation.

“Those community members and board members who were part of the original discussion are now part of the planning and the implementation of the entire center,” said Lieberman. “So it was pre Randall Lewis, the conversation, and then he came into the conversation, and it helped accelerate everything that we’re trying to do.”

Ryan Konrad can be reached at ryan.konrad@laverne.edu.

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