Campus: CSU, Fresno -- March 06, 2001
Fresno State Innovations And Entrepreneurship
Center Funded Through Gift From Fresno Business - Lyles Diversified
Officials at California State University, Fresno
announced today the creation of a new San Joaquin Valley hub
for innovation and entrepreneurship to be located in the
planned Save Mart Center complex on campus.
The innovation center is being funded by a gift from a
Fresno business, Lyles Diversified, Inc.
In announcing the new innovation center, Fresno State
President John D. Welty said, "the generosity of the Lyles'
family will enable the university to play an even more vital
role in encouraging the development of new businesses in the
The exact cost of the new Center was not specified, but
Welty describes the gift as "very substantial." The amount
of the gift will be large enough to prompt the university to
authorize naming the new Center "The Lyles Center for
Innovation and Entrepreneurship."
The Center will be housed in the west complex directly
adjacent to the Save Mart Center.
"This Center will build upon the activities already under
way in entrepreneurship led by the Craig School of Business.
The mission of the new Center is to encourage and promote
innovation and entrepreneurship to result in new business
start-ups and new product launches," Welty said.
The Center will also focus on educating entrepreneurs to the
opportunities available in markets across the United States
and around the globe. The Center will provide intellectual
and applied leadership to students, educators and business
leaders to promote the values and practices of innovation
"The Center will provide high quality university education
and research in innovation and entrepreneurship, and serve
as a major stimulus to the Central Valley economy," said
President Welty. "The generosity of Lyles Diversified and
the Lyles family will enable Fresno State to create a center
of excellence that will help move Central California to the
forefront of California's new economy."
William M. (Bill) Lyles is president and chief executive
officer of Lyles Diversified in Fresno. The company has been
involved in construction, real estate and development,
underground pipeline and utility construction, heavy
concrete and mechanical construction, as well as
manufacturing of closed circuit television surveillance
equipment, and agricultural manufacturing operations.
Three generations of Lyles family members currently are
involved in running the company.
Lyles continues a family tradition of providing substantial
support to the academic programs at Fresno State. The Lyles
family has provided major gifts to the Craig School of
Business, the School of Education and Human Development, the
Business Associates program, the College of Arts and
Humanities, the Henry Madden Library, the Family Business
Institute, the Bulldog Foundation and the Save Mart
Bill Lyles is a long-time member of the university's
President's Circle and a member of the Board of Governors
for the California State University, Fresno Foundation. In
1999, he was awarded one of the university's highest honors
-- the California State University, Fresno Foundation
Service Award. (See attached bio).
His involvement with the Craig School of Business includes
service as chair of the Business Advisory Council, and
member of the Business Associates and Institute for Family
Business. Lyles was also the School's
Entrepreneur-in-Residence for 1999-2000, and convocation
speaker for the 2000 graduating class.
Fred Evans, dean of the Craig School of Business, said the
new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship "will be the
hub of a unique academic community that will support job
creation and spark business formation in Central California.
The Center will build on the university's growing
undergraduate and graduate programs in entrepreneurship and
business creation." In 1996, the Craig School's
entrepreneurship program ranked 37th in the nation.
"This is a significant gift that will help propel California
State University, Fresno to the forefront of national
entrepreneurship education. But more important, it will
enable every citizen of the Central Valley to participate in
the entrepreneurial experience either by tapping their
innovative ideas or helping them build their business," said
Professor Timothy Stearns, the Coleman Foundation
Chairholder in Entreprenueurial Studies.
In addition to the Lyles Center, the west complex of the
Save Mart Center will house support functions for an
innovation incubator, an e-business center, the 300-seat
Leon and Pete Peters "Classroom of the Future," which will
explore the uses of leading edge technologies in teaching,
and other related activities. The complex will also include
a new student recreation center, approved last fall by the
students in a campus referendum.
The estimated value of the Save Mart Center complex exceeds
$100 million and will be the largest, privately funded
project in the history of the California State University
Fresno State is now completing the initial fundraising
effort for the Save Mart Center, having with more than $87
million raised from corporate sponsorships, private gifts,
luxury suites and Arena Builder seats including over 8,500
seats that have been reserved through the sale of personal
When completed, the Save Mart Center will be one of the
largest public event facilities on the West Coast, rivaling
any similar buildings in the Bay Area or Los Angeles.
Additional information about the center is available at
William M. (Bill) Lyles, III
President and Chief Executive Officer
William Lyles is a recognized leader in the building
industry, having served in top roles in many national, state
and local organizations.
He is on the board of the National Association of General
Contractors and the board of directors of the California
State Chamber of Commerce. Lyles also has served on the
Board of the Fresno Economic Development Corporation as well
as on the Board of Governors for the California State
University, Fresno Foundation.
Lyles has been very active in community service, serving as
board chairman of Valley Public Television and the Fresno
Regional Foundation, and as president of the Fresno Chamber
of Commerce, Rotary Playland, East Fresno Rotary and the
Fresno Metropolitan Museum's board of directors. He also has
served on the board of directors for the Private Industry
Council, the Fresno Philharmonic Association, the Purdue
Alumni Association and the Fresno Opera Association.
Lyles' extensive community service was recognized in 1999
when Fresno State presented him with one of the university's
highest honors -- the California State University, Fresno
Foundation Service Award. The award is presented to an
individual who has achieved stature in his or her field of
endeavor that reflects favorably on the Fresno community and
He has supported many other aspects of education in the
region, including the San Joaquin College of Law, community
colleges and public schools.
Lyles holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue
University and served in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineering
Corps where he helped supervise construction of a power
plant, roads, water systems and buildings.