Throughout Chapman University’s decades-long journey to greatness, many of the school’s greatest accomplishments bear a familiar name.
By 1975, Chapman was in dire financial straits. Businessman and administrator George L. Argyros ’59 guaranteed a bank loan, renegotiated another loan, and obtained another line of credit from the Church of the Disciples of Christ. He also gained support from other administrators, and Chapman remained open – and prospered.
More than two decades later, the Chapman School of Business is named after Argyros, the grandson of Greek immigrants who became a prolific entrepreneur, philanthropist and U.S. ambassador through his work ethic and commitment to service.
“Dare to dream. Take advantage of the ability to think big and achieve heights. Be willing to take risks. Fight courageously for the principles you believe in,” Argyros said at the inauguration of the business school in 1999.
And on September 22, the George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics expanded to George L. Argyros College of Business and Economics, thanks to the latest donation of $10 million from the Argyros family. This transition from the Argyros School to a college provides a framework for schools dedicated to various areas of research and teaching, such as the new Burra School of Accounting and Finance.
“Chapman and Argyros College mean so much to my parents and our entire family,” said Lisa Argyros, Trustee 2007. “We are proud to support Argyros College as it continues to rise in the rankings.”
The $10 million gift will support Argyros’ continued rise to the nation’s top 50 business schools. The Argyros school has moved up more than 25 places in the rankings in five years, and last May it went from No. 72 to No. 60 in the ranking of the best business schools by U.S. News & World Report.
“This gift will propel Argyros into one of the top business schools in the country by allowing us to continue to provide excellent, personalized business and economics education that matches the needs of the industry,” said Chapman President, Daniele C. Struppa.
The donation is “an additional commitment to excellence and the path taken by the Argyros School, and it will have a positive effect on students in perpetuity,” said Argyros Dean Henrik Cronqvist.
This donation furthers the goal of Chapman’s strategic plan to raise $500 million through its Inspire Campaign and support academic excellence. More than $357 million has been raised.
“Chapman University would not be what it is today without George Argyros, and we are so grateful to George and Julia and the entire Argyros family for their incredible generosity,” said Matt Parlow, executive vice president and director of advancement. “We are delighted that our business school will continue to carry its vision and name into the future. »
George Argyros was the longest-serving chairman of Chapman’s board of directors, from 1976 to 2001. Chapman’s business school was named after him in 1999, and other campus facilities are named after him and his wife, including Argyros Forum, Argyros Global Citizens Plaza, and the Julianne Argyros Fitness Center.
These honors came after decades of hard work beginning when he was a teenager.
Argyros worked full time at the high school – including delivering newspapers – to help provide for his family. He had no plans to go to college, but trustee Jack Duddy ’42 and professor emeritus Paul Delp ’28 convinced him to study at Chapman.
“(George was an) excellent business student. You came to expect genius from him, and you weren’t at all surprised when he delivered his results,” said his friend and associate professor Eddie Alberts.
Argyros went to college while working as a department manager in a grocery store. During his senior year, he met Julia at a snack bar near campus and they married three years later.
After graduating from Chapman in 1959 with a degree in business and economics, George Argyros ran a grocery store in Palm Springs. He obtained a real estate license and borrowed $1,200 to go into business. In 1968, he founded the real estate brokerage company Arnel & Affiliates.
Arnel created approximately two million square feet of commercial, office and industrial properties in Southern California and owned 5,500 apartments.
In 1981, Argyros became a founding partner of Westar Capital, a private equity firm specializing in investments in mid-market companies. He and retired Air Force General William Lyon purchased the Air California airline, which they sold as AirCal to American Airlines in 1987. From 1981 to 1989, Argyros owned the Mariners of Seattle.
In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Argyros as United States Ambassador to Spain and Andorra. Argyros served as ambassador until 2004.
Argyros has served on corporate boards and has been honored by various organizations for his public service. As chairman of the Chapman Board of Trustees, he oversaw campus transformations, including the creation of the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts and the Fowler School of Law. He received an honorary doctorate from Chapman in 2005.
In 2017 he was appointed distinguished and dedicated alumnus the Bert C. Williams Lifetime Service Awarda distinction bestowed fewer than 20 times during the university’s long history.
In 2019, the The Argyros family reunited with Bush to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the naming of Argyros Schooll, where they made a surprise $10 million donation to the school’s foundation.
“Now it looks like you’ve been stuck with us for a long time,” Julia Argyros said at the event.
Julia has served on the boards of several organizations and nonprofits and has received numerous awards for her philanthropic work.
In 2015, she received an honorary doctorate from Chapman’s College of Performing Arts. Passionate about theater and ballroom dance, she performed with President Emeritus Jim Doti in the Chapman Celebrates productions.
She was active in The women of Chapman, who supports scholarships, programs and projects at Chapman, and has served on the Chapman President’s Cabinet. She and George brought many distinguished guests to campus, including General Colin Powell, Spanish President José Maria Aznar, President Gerald Ford, and Presidents George W. and George H. W. Bush.
Cronqvist said the latest gift from the Argyros family recognizes the business school’s past success and accelerates its future success. What is now Argyros College has climbed the rankings as the MBA program has become more selective and students have successful careers after graduation, he said.
“George Argyros’ contributions have been the source through which we have been able to build and create so many opportunities for our students so that we can have many more George Argyros type students in the future, who can succeed in business and then give back to the university,” Cronqvist said.
The donation was announced at the launch of the Argyros Deanery Distinguished Lecture Series, where Earvin “Magic” Johnson was the inaugural speaker.
Johnson answered questions posed by Cronqvist and then took time to answer questions from two students about how to conduct business.
“I take risks…if I see that everything is coming together and we can make money and make a difference, I do it,” he told one student. “It has to be both. I don’t make a deal unless we can tell the difference. The community impact is very important.
He told another student: “Stop worrying about what other people say – you have to believe in yourself.” You continue to show up to work and do your job. You are smart, you have to love yourself first.
Johnson called two boys to meet him and was on stage when the Argyros’ gift was announced.
The lecture series will feature two to three speakers each semester sharing their career trajectories. The next conference will take place on November 9 and the guest will be announced.
Johnson’s launch of the Argyros Lecture Series continues the college’s history of supporting entrepreneurs like its namesake. Johnson – who is considered the greatest point guard in NBA history – is chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises. He is a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Sparks, Washington Commanders, Los Angeles Football Club and eSports franchise Team Liquid. He continues to expand his influence through his many businesses, including EquiTrust Life Insurance Company and SodexoMAGIC, a catering and facilities management company. He is a leading investor in minority-owned technology companies, including Uncharted Power, an electrical and data infrastructure technology company.