Officials at California State University, Fresno announced today the creation of a new San Joaquin Valley hub for innovation and entrepreneurship to be located in the planned Save Mart Center complex on campus.

The innovation center is being funded by a gift from a Fresno business, Lyles Diversified, Inc.

In announcing the new innovation center, Fresno State President John D. Welty said, “the generosity of the Lyles’ family will enable the university to play an even more vital role in encouraging the development of new businesses in the Valley.”

The exact cost of the new Center was not specified, but Welty describes the gift as “very substantial.” The amount of the gift will be large enough to prompt the university to authorize naming the new Center “The Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.”

The Center will be housed in the west complex directly adjacent to the Save Mart Center.

“This Center will build upon the activities already under way in entrepreneurship led by the Craig School of Business. The mission of the new Center is to encourage and promote innovation and entrepreneurship to result in new business start-ups and new product launches,” Welty said.

The Center will also focus on educating entrepreneurs to the opportunities available in markets across the United States and around the globe. The Center will provide intellectual and applied leadership to students, educators and business leaders to promote the values and practices of innovation and entrepreneurship.

“The Center will provide high quality university education and research in innovation and entrepreneurship, and serve as a major stimulus to the Central Valley economy,” said President Welty. “The generosity of Lyles Diversified and the Lyles family will enable Fresno State to create a center of excellence that will help move Central California to the forefront of California’s new economy.”

William M. (Bill) Lyles is president and chief executive officer of Lyles Diversified in Fresno. The company has been involved in construction, real estate and development, underground pipeline and utility construction, heavy concrete and mechanical construction, as well as manufacturing of closed circuit television surveillance equipment, and agricultural manufacturing operations. Three generations of Lyles family members currently are involved in running the company.

Lyles continues a family tradition of providing substantial support to the academic programs at Fresno State. The Lyles family has provided major gifts to the Craig School of Business, the School of Education and Human Development, the Business Associates program, the College of Arts and Humanities, the Henry Madden Library, the Family Business Institute, the Bulldog Foundation and the Save Mart Center.

Bill Lyles is a long-time member of the university’s President’s Circle and a member of the Board of Governors for the California State University, Fresno Foundation. In 1999, he was awarded one of the university’s highest honors — the California State University, Fresno Foundation Service Award. (See attached bio).

His involvement with the Craig School of Business includes service as chair of the Business Advisory Council, and member of the Business Associates and Institute for Family Business. Lyles was also the School’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence for 1999-2000, and convocation speaker for the 2000 graduating class.

Fred Evans, dean of the Craig School of Business, said the new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship “will be the hub of a unique academic community that will support job creation and spark business formation in Central California. The Center will build on the university’s growing undergraduate and graduate programs in entrepreneurship and business creation.” In 1996, the Craig School’s entrepreneurship program ranked 37th in the nation.

In addition to the Lyles Center, the west complex of the Save Mart Center will house support functions for an innovation incubator, an e-business center, the 300-seat Leon and Pete Peters “Classroom of the Future,” which will explore the uses of leading edge technologies in teaching, and other related activities. The complex will also include a new student recreation center, approved last fall by the students in a campus referendum.

The estimated value of the Save Mart Center complex exceeds $100 million and will be the largest, privately funded project in the history of the California State University system.

Fresno State is now completing the initial fundraising effort for the Save Mart Center, having with more than $87 million raised from corporate sponsorships, private gifts, luxury suites and Arena Builder seats including over 8,500 seats that have been reserved through the sale of personal seat licenses.

When completed, the Save Mart Center will be one of the largest public event facilities on the West Coast, rivaling any similar buildings in the Bay Area or Los Angeles. Additional information about the center is available at


William M. (Bill) Lyles, III

President and Chief Executive Officer

Lyles Diversified

Fresno, California

William Lyles is a recognized leader in the building industry, having served in top roles in many national, state and local organizations.

He is on the board of the National Association of General Contractors and the board of directors of the California State Chamber of Commerce. Lyles also has served on the Board of the Fresno Economic Development Corporation as well as on the Board of Governors for the California State University, Fresno Foundation.

Lyles has been very active in community service, serving as board chairman of Valley Public Television and the Fresno Regional Foundation, and as president of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Playland, East Fresno Rotary and the Fresno Metropolitan Museum’s board of directors. He also has served on the board of directors for the Private Industry Council, the Fresno Philharmonic Association, the Purdue Alumni Association and the Fresno Opera Association.

Lyles’ extensive community service was recognized in 1999 when Fresno State presented him with one of the university’s highest honors — the California State University, Fresno Foundation Service Award. The award is presented to an individual who has achieved stature in his or her field of endeavor that reflects favorably on the Fresno community and the university.

He has supported many other aspects of education in the region, including the San Joaquin College of Law, community colleges and public schools.

Lyles holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University and served in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineering Corps where he helped supervise construction of a power plant, roads, water systems and buildings.