Jul 22, 2019

Donation adds new name

Many students will benefit from a large gift to the university renaming the College of Engineering to the Lyles College of Engineering.

As of Nov. 19, trustees of the university approved the new name. A gift of $10 million was given by Bill Lyles, his family and companies to better the education for students in the Central Valley.

“We watched the region grow and change through the years, and we believe it is essential that the Valley transform its economy in the years ahead,” Lyles said in a press release. “A critical part of that transformation will be more well-educated engineers to support this growth.”

The Lyles family are longtime supporters of Fresno State, and have helped numerous projects at the university. Lyles hopes his gift will encourage and inspire others to help his effort. The university agreed to match Lyles’ donation. With the university’s added money, there will be a total of $20 million being put toward the college for the coming years. Michael Jenkins, dean of the department, noted that the matching of the money is to encourage others to help out in the effort.

“He has been involved with the College of Engineering for many years and he believes in technology education,” Jenkins said. “His companies have been involved in construction, real estate and development.

Numerous programs on the campus have been expanded due to the generosity of the Lyles family. A few include the Craig School of Business, the Kremen School of Education and Human Development, the Henry Madden Library and the Save Mart Center.

Lyles has a vision to encourage excellent mathematics and science education beginning in middle schools.

“I wanted to do something macro that I have confidence can make a big difference in our regional economy,” Lyles said in a press release. “That ‘something’ is a gift to provide a top quality engineering college in the region staffed by inspiring faculty and offering research opportunities to faculty and students.”

With the help from Lyles and the school, students will be able to be more involved in projects and internships. More graduates will get to interact with faculty, and have more flexibility in offering programs. Lyles’ hope for the engineering college is also to provide a place locally where business innovators can be trained and to stimulate the economy.

Jenkins named seven areas they plan to enhance with the money. The first one is student retention, recruitment and outreach. That will include College of Engineering (COE) student services, facilities for COE student services, COE honor programs and annual scholarships. The second one is scholastic activity and research seed money.

The third is the graduate program strengthening. The money will help fellowships for recruiting. The fourth is student project support, which deals with national competitions. Faculty hiring and startup is the fifth one. The money will help the faculty salary-bridge through LCOE community partners, student assistant, and professional development. Distance learning programs, which include support for Antelope Valley engineering programs, is the sixth one. The seventh will deal with facilities, including maintenance, upgrades and equipment replacements.

“We already offer high quality programs,” Jenkins said. “We will be concentrating on changing the quality of the educational experience.”

Establishing a regional industrial area is another important element of the improvement plan. From the improvement, it would become a home of high-tech, high-paying businesses. Following the improvements, there will be a ceremony to celebrate.

On Dec. 3, there will be a ceremony on campus celebrating the naming of the college. There will be speakers and the unveiling of the new logo for the college.

Following the ceremony, there will be a luncheon at the Smittcamp Alumni house.

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