From Runaway Teen to Honored Alumnus
Dan Black Tells Graduates ‘Don’t Let Anyone or Anything Stop You’
June 5, 2007
By Russ Hudson
CSUF alumnus Dan Black, a successful entrepreneur since graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physics 40 years ago, has given many speeches on his success.
He always emphasizes that every CSUF graduate can achieve
what he has, including the founding of three multimillion-dollar companies,
the most recent the Nevada-based ProThera vitamin-supplement company.
To make his point that any student can be successful, he often describes himself as “a solid B-minus physics student.”
Black was born in Los Angeles in 1939, his brother a few years later, in the type of family common then — with a father serving in World War II. When his father came home, he found out that “he would be raising his two sons alone,” said Black. “My mother felt that her lifestyle was not conducive to raising two young boys.”
His father remarried to a woman with two children of her own, Black recounted, and they moved to Downey. He received “very little educational direction at school or at home. At 17, I ran away from home and commuted 18 miles each way to finish high school. I then joined the Air Force and, four days after graduating from high school, I was on a train to Lackland Air Force Base.
“Three years later, I was married and my first child was born.”
It was at that point, Black said, “I realized I had to make changes in my life, and decided that college was the answer.”
He transferred to Cal State Fullerton in 1964 and took a freshman physics course from the late Ray Adams, “and my life changed forever.”
Black acknowledges the guidance and direction he received from his professors, pointing to Harvey Blend, Ronald Crowley and Roger Dittman as those who helped him “be where I am today.”
Black has donated and pledged $4.2 million to the university and given hundreds of hours of his time. At this year’s commencement ceremonies, he received an honorary doctorate in science. When he addressed the graduates he gave them four fundamentals to success:
your limitations, and don’t try to do everything yourself. Acknowledge
your deficiencies and, if you’re in a position to do so, hire good
people to compensate for them. Then, let the people you hire do what
proficient in. Another way to look at this is that you’ll never get
rich working by the hours, only by managing others.
• “Second, share your success. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.
• “Third, remember that you can’t stay on top forever. Every foot you step on the way up belongs to someone and you can be sure you’ll meet the S.O.B. on the way down.
• “Finally, let your gut be your guide. It if feels good, the chances of success are much greater. So, enjoy your work and have fun.”