I founded a university that offers flexible, affordable, and customized education that prepares you to reach your goals.
Hello, my name is Dr. Donald Hecht. Welcome to my blog, The Founder’s Corner. I will discuss topics such as education, leadership, online degrees, and much more. Please read below for a little background about myself and why I founded California Southern University back in 1978.
My educational experience first began when I took a high school assessment test saying I’d be good at engineering, and I enjoyed the design part of this field. I earned my degree in Mechanical Engineering from New York University. Then wanted to acquire my MBA, but did not have a business background, so I went to Colombia University and received my master’s in industrial engineering. However, being a people person and having my Master’s of Science, I decided to go into teaching. I first taught at a technical High School, then at a Community College for over ten years. I wanted to go into full-time college teaching, but did not have the degree; so, I went back to school to obtain my Doctor of Science in Industrial and Management Engineering, and progressed from an instructor to professor. I was relieved to have the opportunity to apply my knowledge and make a difference in students’ lives.
However, throughout that time, it was very difficult to earn the Sc.D. degree. Throughout my education I was still working as a full-time teacher, had a family to take care of, maintained a 40-mile commute, and was only able to take classes after hours because the school was not accommodating to my schedule. I was only able to do one course within 16 weeks each, and the process was taxing. I finally finished my doctorate at the age of forty-three. While I worked as a dean for working students earning their master’s degree in the evenings, I saw how tired my students were, much like I was when I was a student. They all had different learning habits, a hard time staying awake, and struggled to afford their classes. I tried to fight the system to accommodate for these students, yet I did not have much leeway to teach as I wanted to.
All these experiences motivated me to found California Southern University because I understand the difficulties of earning a degree while working full-time and juggling life’s challenges. I wanted to change the educational structure, where students’ backgrounds and college testing scores aren’t the main factor. At CalSouthern we define our students as learners, because they are the center of the process. I want the learner to be individually focused on so they can reach their needs and goals, can afford their classes, and avoid being in debt to earn a practical education that sets them up for their future. Learner outcome is what’s important and our university works to provide each learner with the best opportunities for success. For many years I ran the school on my own as the admissions representative, the marketing team, and instructor, among other roles. As a correspondence school, I did all work through pen and paper and over the phone. By the early 2000s, the university had evolved to a one hundred percent online accredited institution honoring learners through intellectual and individualistic freedom.
I am excited to share more about myself and some thoughts on education and business. Please let me know if you have any questions or topic suggestions!