Campus: CSU Fullerton -- May 13, 2005

Cal State Fullerton Alumnus Steven G. Mihaylo to Receive Honorary Doctorate May 29

Steven G. Mihaylo graduated from Cal State Fullerton in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a dream of creating a business of his own. More than 35 years later, his company, Inter-Tel, has become the one of the world’s largest providers of business telephone systems.

But the entrepreneur believes that to be successful is more than just building an international corporation — it’s giving back to those institutions that have helped along the way.

Mihaylo will be honored at this year’s commencement ceremonies with an honorary doctorate of humane letters in recognition of his success as a business leader and philanthropist.

“Mr. Mihaylo is a self-made entrepreneur in the best tradition of American business. Starting from humble origins but with a keen business acumen and rugged determination, he created Inter-Tel in 1969,” noted Anil Puri, dean of the College of Business and Economics. “He has guided and led the company in an intensely competitive industry full of giant international corporations and small and hungry young rivals, and made Inter-Tel the national leader in the business communications industry in the middle sector and an emerging force in the large corporate sector.”

The honorary doctorate, awarded jointly by the campus and the California State University, is conferred in recognition of excellence and extraordinary achievement in significant areas of human endeavors. Mihaylo is the third CSUF alumnus to be recognized in this manner, joining award-winning mystery novelist Elizabeth George (M.S. counseling ’79) and international businessman Gareth C.C. Chang (B.A. mathematics ’65) who were honored in 2004 and 2001, respectively.

“Mr. Mihaylo epitomizes the promise of a California State University graduate: hardworking, entrepreneurial, ethical and committed to giving back to the community,” said President Milton A. Gordon. “He is an extraordinary gentleman and business leader.”

Mihaylo, 61, caught the entrepreneurial bug early in life, selling newspapers for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. When he joined the U.S. Army at 17, he earned extra money by tailoring uniforms while at Fort Ord, and later, attended Army radio and radar technicians school at Fort Gordon in Georgia.

After three years in the service, Mihaylo joined Western Electric and later worked for Douglas Aircraft and Panoramic Audio while attending college. Although offered an accounting position with Arthur Young following graduation from Cal State Fullerton, Mihaylo took a different route and moved to Phoenix, where he established the fledgling Inter-Tel as a division of Panoramic.
Ten years later, Inter-Tel was an independent company with annual sales of $7.8 million. By 1994, the company had broken the $100 million revenue mark, and this year is expected to reach $500 million in sales.

“I was able to do what I did in large part because of the education that I received at Cal State Fullerton,” he said about developing Inter-Tel. “I believe that everything that I did my entire life led to starting Inter-Tel and working to get it where it is today.”

True to his belief that it is important to give back, Mihaylo has made financial contributions to such far-flung organizations as Junior Achievement, juvenile diabetes research and his high school alma mater, Big Bear High School in Big Bear Lake.

Last year, he pledged $3 million toward a new College of Business and Economics building that will bear his name. It is the largest pledge of cash in Cal State Fullerton history.

“Over the years, I have been grateful for the education that I received at California State University, Fullerton and for the opportunities that I was afforded,” said Mihaylo. “It is my honor and privilege to support the College of Business and Economics and to be a part of an environment where all students have the opportunity to succeed.”

Media Contact: Pamela McLaren of Public Affairs at (714) 278-4852 or

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