RENO — University of Nevada, Reno alumni Fatih Ozmen ’81 M.S. (electrical engineering) and Eren Ozmen ’85 MBA have pledged $5 million to create a new entrepreneurship center in conjunction with the University’s College of Business. To date, this is the largest gift the College of Business has received.
The Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship, which opens Sept. 15, will permanently support and significantly enhance programs at the University that develop student entrepreneurial capacities and stimulate the creation of new business ventures. This endeavor will serve as an economic development engine for northern Nevada and will garner national recognition for the state.
“Our goal is that the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship expand and nurture an entrepreneurial culture and provide resources for the same both on campus and throughout the community,” said Eren Ozmen, president and CFO of Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and the 2013 College of Business alumnus of the year. “We see the center providing an entrepreneurial ‘hub’ that increases business opportunities and creates a robust exchange of ideas that stimulates job growth and benefits our society.”
The Ozmen Center, located on the fourth floor of the Ansari Business Building, will also augment the educational offerings from other colleges and schools on campus by coordinating with them on new programs that require entrepreneurial training in areas such as science, engineering and journalism. University faculty member Chris Howard is the director for the Ozmen Center, which can be found online at ozmencenter.unr.edu.
The University expects to see a striking increase in entrepreneurial pursuits generated on campus as a result of the Ozmen Center. The College of Business now offers six entrepreneurship classes as part of its undergraduate program and two classes as part of the MBA program. The college also hosts the annual Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition, which awards $50,000 to the team with the most innovative idea.
“As an institution, the University of Nevada, Reno embraces entrepreneurship, technology transfer and commercialization,” said University President Marc Johnson. “Through the new Ozmen Center, we will continue to leverage the knowledge, resources and talent of the University for the advancement of business in Nevada.”
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval ’86 said the Ozmen Center will greatly complement the Silver State’s plan for economic development. “The Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship will provide the energy, resources and yet another connection point for new business ventures and jobs in our state,” Sandoval said. “Today’s announcement adds to the critical infrastructure which supports economic diversification and serves as a catalyst for innovation for Nevada’s industries. The center is also a superb example of how private industry can cohesively work with higher education to successfully promote entrepreneurial activity.”
The Ozmens joined SNC shortly after receiving their master’s degrees from Nevada. The couple then acquired the company in 1994, eventually expanding SNC into six business areas in 31 locations in 17 states, with a workforce of more than 3,000 personnel.
SNC has been an avid supporter of the University. It was one of the initiating members of the Corporate Partners Programs for the College of Business and College of Engineering, including sponsoring an annual engineering scholarship. The company has a long history of offering paid business and engineering internships. SNC also provides three separate rotational career professional development programs that target University students in the areas of business, information technology and program management, as well as sponsoring various other student programs. SNC also provided a major gift to the Summer Study Tour to Turkey program through the College of Liberal Arts.
Headquartered in Sparks, Nevada, SNC has received numerous awards for innovation, growth and employee satisfaction, including World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Space by Fast Company magazine, ranking among the U.S. Top 10 Fastest-growing Companies by Inc. magazine for revenue growth for billion dollar companies and one of the Greater Reno-Tahoe Best Places to Work in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
“We are extremely proud and fortunate to count the Ozmens among the University’s distinguished alumni,” said Greg Mosier, dean of the College of Business. “It has been an inspiration to follow their success story and watch them return to campus countless times to generously pay it forward.”