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.
The CLU 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.