Wolff Center Namesake Inspires Entrepreneur Grads to Pursue the American Dream

Published on May 15, 2008
Melvyn Wolff, chairman of Star Furniture and namesake of the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, encouraged graduates to share their successes with future UH students.

Melvyn Wolff, chairman of Star Furniture and namesake of the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, encouraged graduates to share their successes with future UH students.

As parents, grandparents, teachers and mentors crowded a hotel ballroom in order to celebrate the graduation and induction of students from the University of Houston C.T. Bauer College of Business’ entrepreneurship program, ranked second in the country, one theme emerged – the 30 students who are selected by the Cyvia & Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship each year have been given a stellar opportunity.

“You’ve already won the lottery,” an emotional Melvyn Wolff told the gathering. “This is an achievement worth a lot more than money. Each of you is better equipped than any other graduating class in the nation.”

Wolff, the keynote speaker after a few words from Wolff Center Executive Director Daniel Steppe and Dean Arthur Warga, advised students to adhere to what he called “the three I’s: intelligence, initiative and integrity.”

“You’re prepared to shape your own customized business career. You’ve prepared yourself very well for the race you’re about to run,” he said.

The one thing graduates lack now is experience, Wolff said. “To be sure, there’s a certain amount of risk in pursuit of your goals. The most important thing for you to know is what you don’t know.”

Wolff shared more advice with the students by saying, “First, always have a plan in place. Second, continue your education; search out mentors and reach high. Third, you will be making many choices. Always take the high road. Your integrity is your most valuable asset.”

Wolff noted that 14 Entrepreneur students have earned first, second or third places in national business competitions in the past five years and that the school is the fastest growing in the country. In 2007, it was ranked the #2 undergraduate entrepreneurship program in the nation by Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review. “Our school just keeps distinguishing itself. Time and again, our students stand tall,” Wolff said.

He urged students to return to UH some day, saying, “Sharing your success with those behind you will be the most satisfying thing you ever do.” As if to reiterate that, Wolff’s wife Cyvia shared roses from her own congratulatory bouquet with the female graduates on stage.

Those in attendance were the first to wear jackets adorned with the couples’ names since they made a generous gift in 2007. “I promise to live and to prosper and to pursue the American Dream,” inductees said, reciting a pledge to uphold the Center’s high standards.

By Julie Bonnin

About the University of Houston

The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

About the Bauer College of Business

The C.T. Bauer College of Business has been in operation for more than 60 years at the University of Houston main campus. Through its five academic departments, the college offers a full-range of undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees in business. The Bauer College is fully accredited by the AACSB International – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In August 2000, Houston business leader and philanthropist Charles T. (Ted) Bauer endowed the College of Business with a $40 million gift. In recognition of his generosity, the college was renamed the C.T. Bauer College of Business.