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Gov. Gray Davis Announces New UCR Center for Entrepreneurial Management in Desert

Gov. Gray Davis Announces New UCR Center for Entrepreneurial Management in Desert

(March 24, 2000)

Rancho Mirage (March 24, 2000) -California Governor Gray Davis and a host of civic and higher education leaders Friday announced the creation of the Richard J. Heckmann International Center for Entrepreneurial Management at the graduate management school of the University of California,  Riverside. The center will be located on a 20-acre campus in Palm Desert.

Richard Heckmann, founder of USFilter and chairman of the board of Vivendi Water, along with his wife, Mary Heckmann, will build the multi-million dollar facility on land donated by the City of Palm Desert. The facility will then be given to UCR, said Chancellor Raymond L. Orbach.

The gift was announced Friday night at a gathering of about 400 people at the Chancellor's Associates Gala 2000, a black-tie dinner at the Ritz Carlton in Rancho Mirage honoring university donors.  Congresswoman Mary Bono and Palm Desert Mayor Buford Crites joined Chancellor Orbach and Albert Karnig, president of California State University, San Bernardino, in making the announcement and in saluting the Heckmanns.

The center will be part of the UCR A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management.  The unique design will emphasize the importance of water to the desert region, and will provide a home for management seminars, conferences, guest speakers and higher education classes in partnership with CSU San Bernardino and the College of the Desert. Already, the Heckmanns have committed to working with UCR to raise additional funds for endowed chairs and an operating endowment. The commitment is expected to exceed $15 million.

Heckmann is chairman of the board of Vivendi Water, a multi-billion dollar international corporation. Vivendi acquired USFilter for $8.2 billion nine years after its founding by Mr. Heckmann. Today, USFilter is a leading global provider of industrial and commercial water and wastewater treatment systems and services with corporate offices in Palm Desert.

"This is a fabulous gift, one that will springboard teaching and practice of management into new quarters and to new heights," said Orbach. "It will bring the luster and attraction of the Coachella Valley to even greater international attention. Moreover, the synergies developed by the close proximity and close partnerships of three great institutions of higher education-The California State University, San Bernardino; College of the Desert; and UCR-have the potential to reflect the Heckmann Center focus on entrepreneurship. We will be educational entrepreneurs and we will bring new educational opportunity to the desert."

Cal State University, San Bernardino President Karnig also expressed enthusiasm about the partnership. "To develop a permanent center in Palm Desert, we've worked closely with the College of the Desert, foundation and private donors, and the City of Palm Desert," Karnig said. "UCR has itself long been in the valley through its agriculture and extension programs, and we're delighted that it will join us on the Cook Street property and offer advanced business programs. This is a unique collaboration between CSU and UC campuses, and we look forward to a partnership which will serve the needs of students and other Coachella residents.

In a College of the Desert letter signed jointly by Terry L. Green, president of the Board of Trustees; William R. Kroonen, superintendent/president; and Crites, who also serves as academic senate president at College of the Desert; the authors lauded the new higher education partnership. "Just as College of the Desert has embraced the establishment of CSUSB by hosting its programs on our campus for the past 14 years and hosting the important research activity of the UCR Center for Environmental Research and Technology, we are pleased that CSUSB and UCR continue this spirit at the new campus location and that you have involved our institution in the discussions leading to your decisions. Together, our three institutions can be much more effective than any one of us alone," it said.

Donald H. Dye, dean of the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCR, said that the new center represents the entrepreneurial spirit that has made the Coachella Valley one of the great gathering spots for the world's entrepreneurs. "With its sand, wind, water and clear skies, Coachella Valley has seduced the CEOs of Fortune 1000 companies; political leaders; entertainers and ordinary citizens," he said. "It is fitting that Richard Heckmann took this unique place as his home, built the internationally recognized USFilter company here, and then decided to create an educational legacy to help others find good fortune."

Designed by Architram Design Group of Ontario, the elegant building will sit adjacent to the new Palm Desert education center of California State University, San Bernardino, at the intersection of Frank Sinatra Drive and Cook Street. The Heckmann Center will incorporate offices, classrooms and a conference center sufficient for a variety of uses. Dean Dye said that he is cooperating with Cal State San Bernardino to offer international conferences, executive education, certificate programs, workshops and seminars targeting the business community.

Goals of the Heckmann Center include:

§         Developing research which is relevant to the expansion of a global understanding of the entrepreneurial process through teaching, research and interaction with the business world.

§         Teaching the leadership and management skills necessary to develop global business leaders who create new economic value, whether through start-up companies or the expansion of existing organizations. Programs could potentially include an Executive MBA, a Masters in Entrepreneurship, certificate programs, research symposia and conferences.

§         Providing real world learning for students by bringing successful entrepreneurs into the classroom, both as adjunct faculty and guest speakers, and by sending students into the business community as interns, consultants or in other roles.

§         The potential creation of other programs that take advantage of the business, entertainment and political expertise found in the Coachella Valley, including engineering and computer science partnerships, environmental research, education seminars, partnerships with foreign universities and other activities.

The University of California, Riverside is one of 10 campuses of the University of California, generally recognized as the preeminent public university system in the world. Located in the Inland Empire of Southern California, the 1,200-acre main campus is in Riverside, a city of about 250,000 people.

California State University, San Bernardino is part of the 23-campus CSU, the single largest provider of higher education in the world. The San Bernardino campus serves over 14,000 undergraduate and master's degree students, and the campus is the second-largest teacher-preparation campus in the CSU system. CSUSB's Coachella Valley campus currently serves more than 800 students in Palm Desert.

USFilter has 100 manufacturing plants in 94 countries, annual revenues of $5 billion and more than 1,000 active patents for its technologies. Richard Heckmann is also behind K-2 Inc., a manufacturer of sporting goods equipment; United Rentals, Inc., the country's largest equipment rental company; and Station Casinos. All are listed on the New York Stock Exchange. He is also a founding shareholder of Callaway Golf, Inc.


The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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