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S2:E29- From Engineering to starting a University with Dr. Donald Hecht

S2:E29- From Engineering to starting a University with Dr. Donald Hecht

About Dr. Hecht:

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 of Science, I decided to go into teaching High School and 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 going from an instructor to professor.

However, throughout that time, it was very difficult to earn the Sc.D. degree. I was still working as a full-time teacher, had a family to take care of, had a 40-mile commute, and was only able to take classes after hours because the school was not accommodating to my schedule as a part time student and professor. I finally finished my doctorate at the age of forty-three. While I worked as a dean for working-class students trying to earn their master’s degree in the evenings, I saw how tired my students were. 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 to earning a degree while 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 the focus so they can reach their goals, can afford their classes, and avoid being in debt to earn a practical education and degree that sets them up for their future. Your outcome is what’s important and CalSouthern wants to provide the learners with the best opportunities for success. After running the school on my own for a few years through pen and paper, the university began to evolve from phone and mail to 100% online accredited institution honoring learners intellectual and individualistic freedom.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Dr. Hecht's upbringing
  • What sports he played
  • Why he went into Engineering 
  • Getting his Doctorate 
  • Creating the university
  • His first student
  • And more!

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