On a Saturday morning in the summer of 1977, Professor Fran Jabara was riding his exercise bike while watching a television tuned to the only entertainment available: cartoons. A limousine with a high-powered, manipulative, uncaring businessman appeared on the screen and Jabara was struck by two things: the negative way in which the businessman was portrayed and the stereotype that business people are exclusively CEO's of large, established companies.
At that moment, Jabara - who had been a member of the business faculty at Wichita State University for 28 years - decided it was time to change society's image of business people. "We spend all of our time talking to our students about becoming president of a major corporation and we devote almost no time to thinking about the entrepreneurial process."
With entrepreneurial spirit, Jabara set out to build the Center for Entrepreneurship. He received approval from the university administration to sponsor a workshop. Then, assuming the initial cost of the workshop himself, Jabara used the profits to foster other Center activities.
And generate a profit it did.
The workshop, entitled "Entrepreneurship: Your Future in Business," attracted more than three hundred students the first year and generated over $30,000 in seed capital. With YFIB as a catalyst, the Center rapidly expanded. The academic program solidified with the establishment of the minor in 1987, an undergraduate major in 1990, and a Master of Science in Business degree with a specialization in entrepreneurship in 1995.
Jabara also promoted awareness and knowledge of entrepreneurship to the community through various outreach programs. He originated the Entrepreneur and Executive in Residence Lecture Series and initiated a number of seminars on entrepreneurship for a wide range of special audiences. The outreach effort also included the Business Heritage Book Series, created to record the biographies of notable entrepreneurs in the region.
As founder and first director of WSU's Center for Entrepreneurship, Fran Jabara inspired a national movement to include entrepreneurship as a central part of business education. Entrepreneurial centers are now commonplace on campuses throughout the world.
Through Jabara's advocacy of the American enterprise system and his firm belief in the importance of entrepreneurship, the Center's program became recognized as one of the most comprehensive in the nation.
On November 4, 1988, ground was broken at the Devlin Hall building site for the Center for Entrepreneurship. A new era of entrepreneurship had begun. The Center's founder, Fran Jabara, was thrilled when his former student, Tom Devlin, offered to make a substantial donation to build the center. "Our dream is to build a world class center," Jabara said, "and this building is an important part of that plan."
With the dedication ribbon cutting on March 30, 1990, Wichita State University became one of the first universities in the world to dedicate a building exclusively to entrepreneurship education. As Andrew Amend, then-president of the Association of Collgiate Entrepreneurs (ACE) put it at the time: "This is not just a building of bricks, mortar and glass but a birthing place of ideas, hopes and dreams."
On April 8, 1987, Myra and Tom Devlin, an entrepreneur and former Wichita State student, pledged $5 million to Wichita State, designating $1 million for the construction of a center for entrepreneurship. At the time the Devlins' gift was announced, it was the largest single contribution in the University's history and one of the largest ever made to any Kansas university. According to the Wichita Eagle, "Tom Devlin's story is one of Wichita's success stories; a Cinderella story of the business world, of a small company going national, through a combination of hard work and the ability to attract and keep good employees." The Devlin's took $15,000 from Tom's mother and six other investors and turned it into Rent-A-Center, a national furniture rental chain which he sold in 1987 for $594 million.
Dr. Donald Hackett
1994 - 2005
Dr. Hackett graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1967 with a bachelor's degree in accounting and finance. After being commissioned in the U.S. Army, Lt. Hackett served, on active duty, with the 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry in the Republic of Viet Nam. He is now retired as a Colonel in the United States Army Reserve.
Upon returning from Viet Nam, Hackett worked for two Fortune 500 firms, the Kerr McGee Corporation and Federated Department Stores. He later returned to the classroom at the University of Oklahoma as an NDEA fellow and received his DBA in Marketing and Management.
In 1973, he joined the faculty of the W. Frank Barton School of Business at WSU as a professor of marketing. Within the University, Dr. Hackett has held the positions of Director of Graduate Studies in Business from 1974-1980 and Director of the Center for Management Development from 1989-1992.
Dr. Hackett is the recipient of the prestigious WSU Regents Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has written extensively on marketing and management with articles appearing in such journals as the Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Advertising, and Journal of Small Business. He authored a monograph entitled Franchising: Status and Strategies, published by the American Marketing Association and co-authored Facilitation Skills for Team Leaders.
Dr. Hackett's rich management background in business and military organizations, combined with his academic experience, provide a unique resource for the students he teaches. He has worked with many national firms including: PepsiCo, Raytheon Aircraft, Coleman Company, and Canadian Pacific Railway. Dr. Hackett resigned as the Center's Director in spring 2005 to return to the classroom and to pursue research as a Family Business Fellow.
Dr. Gerald H. Graham
1989 - 1993
As a recipient of the R. P. Clinton Distinguished Professor of Management and former Dean of the W. Frank Barton School of Business, Dr. Gerald Graham earned his Ph.D. in Management at Louisiana State University in 1967. He joined the Wichita State faculty in 1967. As Director of WSU's Center for Entrepreneurship, Dr. Graham helped move the Center into a new era. During his tenure, the academic program gained permanency and acceptance in the academic community with the approval of the undergraduate major in 1990.
Dr. Graham has made management presentations to more than 250,000 participants in 44 states and Canada. His research interests include the study of nonfinancial incentives, conflict resolution, and organizational communication. A recognized leader in management education, Dr. Graham is a recipient of the WSU Regents Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Barton School of Business Teaching Award. Dean Graham has published four management textbooks, which have been adopted nationally, and numerous research articles. He also writes a semi-monthly column for the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain.
F. D. (Fran) Jabara
Founder & First Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship
1977 - 1989
A certified public accountant, Professor Jabara earned his undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University and completed his graduate studies at Northwestern University. Fran joined the faculty at Wichita State University in 1949 and served the University for 40 years. He was made a Distinguished Professor in 1971 and served as Dean of the College of Business Administration for seven years.
Jabara, recognized as a national leader in entrepreneurship, was awarded the Freedom Foundation's prestigious Leavey Award of Excellence in Private Enterprise Education and the George Washington Honor Medal. Fran was the chairman of the Kansas delegation to the 1986 White House Conference on Small Business. In 1991, he was the recipient of the Ernst Young, Merrill Lynch, Inc. Magazine Award for Entrepreneur of the Year. In 1991, he founded Project HOPE, a program designed to encourage entrepreneurial thinking in multicultural fifth graders. Wichita State University dedicated Jabara Hall in 1996, the same year Jabara was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Oklahoma Sate University. He was a 1997 Laureate for the Wichita Business Hall of Fame.
Founder of a merchant banking and investment company, Jabara Ventures Group, and the Jabara Family Foundation, Fran is a board of directors' member of numerous private and public corporations. Devoted to fostering a more conducive environment for entrepreneurs, Mr. Jabara continues to be actively involved in assisting and facilitating entrepreneurial development, frequently traveling internationally to discuss joint venturing and entrepreneurship. Professor Jabara has been instrumental in assisting other universities in creating academic programs in entrepreneurship.
As a symbol of the entrepreneurial spirit, the original Pizza Hut building was moved to the WSU campus in September of 1986. It was reconstructed as a tribute to the co-founders of Pizza Hut, Frank and Dan Carney, who as students at WSU launched an American success story from this humble building.
The pizza craze was sweeping the nation in 1958 when two young WSU college students opened their first Pizza Hut restaurant. The Carneys were approached by the owner of a small building who wanted a nice neighborhood business to locate at the corner of Kellogg and Bluff in Wichita. The brothers borrowed $300 each from their parents; located John Bender, an airman at McConnell Air Force Base who had been a pizza cook; purchased some second-hand equipment; and opened for business. They gave pizza away their first night in business to attract potential customers.
People often ask how Pizza Hut got its name. The Carney's first restaurant building had a sign which would only accommodate nine characters. They wanted to use "Pizza" in the name, which left room for a word with only three letters. Beverly Carney, Dan's wife, suggested that the building looked like a hut, and "Pizza Hut" was born.
Frank and Dan Carney continue to be outstanding supporters of Wichita State University, the W. Frank Barton School of Business, and the Center for Entrepreneurship.