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May 19, 2004 :: No. 251

Alumnus Pledges $3 Million to College of Business and Economics

A Cal State Fullerton business administration graduate, who went from being the sole employee in a one-man shop to leader of a global organization, has made a $3 million pledge to the College of Business and Economics — the largest pledge of cash in the university’s history.

In recognition of his generosity, the university plans to name the college’s future building Steven G. Mihaylo Hall, in honor of the chairman, president and chief executive officer of Inter-Tel, a publicly traded provider of communications hardware, software and services.
The California State University Board of Trustees today approved the building name.

“Mr. Mihaylo joins us in the belief that Cal State Fullerton continues to have a bright future in educating the business leaders of tomorrow,” said CSUF President Milton A. Gordon. “When you invite participation in a project like this, you always look for the ideal partnership, and in this case, Cal State Fullerton found one of its own — a true Titan.

“His gift helps us launch the College of Business and Economics into the forefront of business institutions nationwide.”

“On behalf of the board of trustees, I would like to thank you for your tremendous generosity to make this facility possible for Cal State Fullerton,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “You have done something that will be there forever for all of our students.”

“I think the partnership of myself, all the academicians and the Cal State Fullerton alumni throughout the state have a real opportunity to build something special here, and I’m not just talking about the building itself,” Mihaylo said to the trustees. “I’m talking about the opportunity to gain national prominence for the business school. That’s my real goal.”

“Steve’s whole life is a poignant message for our students, and his achievements have a special meaning,” said Anil Puri, dean of the College of Business and Economics. “His gift is the first important step in making our college the premier business school in Southern California. It is a vote of confidence in our college and our vision.”

Mihaylo, who spent three years in the U.S. Army, attended Cal State Fullerton on the GI Bill. He supported himself by working the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift at McDonnell Douglas, followed by a position in a telecommunications firm that later became a partner in his company. He remembers his years at Fullerton as “fast. My time at Fullerton whizzed by in a big hurry.”

Not forgotten are his accounting professors’ ‘war’ stories. “They could relate their real-world experiences in realistic situations as they taught us, and that was excellent for students as we learned theory,” said Mihaylo. “We could incorporate both theory and practice in the classroom setting. I found it an excellent learning situation.”

After graduating in 1969, Mihaylo founded Inter-Tel. The Phoenix-based company offers communications products, applications utilizing networks and server-based communications software, as well as managed services that include voice and data network design and traffic provisioning, custom application development and financial solutions packages. Inter-Tel employs more than 1,800 and services more than 500,000 business customers through a network of 50 company-owned, direct sales offices and more than 350 authorized providers in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan.

“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,” Mihaylo said. “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.”

Addressing the trustees and others assembled in the CSU’s Dumke Auditorium, Alex Lopez, CSU student trustee and a senior business administration major at Cal State Fullerton, thanked Mihaylo “for being a role model for Cal State Fullerton students. California State University provides opportunities for students of this state. It is alumni like you who set an example for all Cal State students.”

Mihaylo reconnected with the university last year after he was contacted by Puri and invited to a dean’s advisory board retreat.

“This gift is a real testimony to fundamental advancement work,” said Pam Hillman, vice president for university advancement. “This is a transformational gift for Cal State Fullerton. It provides terrific momentum toward our match of $5 million for Prop. 55.”

In March, voters approved Proposition 55: the Kindergarten-University Education Facilities Bond Act of 2004, which includes $47.4 million in bond funding for the planned structure. The university’s goal is to raise an additional $5 million in private gifts for the project, which is expected to break ground in 2006.

Including Mihaylo’s commitment, the pledge total has reached $4.4 million.

The planned 190,000-square-foot building to be built southeast of Langsdorf Hall will feature state-of-the-art classrooms, interactive technology, multimedia lecture halls and faculty offices. Selection of an architect and the design phase launch are slated for this summer.

Media Contacts: Anil Puri, dean of the College of Business and Economics, at 657-278-2592 or
Pamela McLaren of Public Affairs at 657-278-4852
Jeanne Leckie, Inter-Tel Corporate Public Relations, at (480) 961-2262