Big Lots CEO donates $500,000 to Columbia College

Thursday, September 27, 2012 | 9:01 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Big Lots Inc. CEO Steven Fishman has donated $500,000 to Columbia College to create a center for entrepreneurship, college officials announced Thursday.

A banquet was hosted at the college Thursday to announce the donation and introduce the school's Tradition Meets Tomorrow fundraising campaign. The campaign — designed to support the college's science, arts and humanities, business, adult higher education and athletics programs — encompasses all the Columbia College campuses, as well as their online courses. 

Fishman, an alumnus of Columbia College, made his donation with support from the Big Lots corporation. His donation is the second-largest the college has received for the campaign, which has raised $7.4 million thus far, according to a news release.

Fishman's donation will be used to establish the Steven and Barbara Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship.

"These youths lack experience but have a lot of ideas and passion," Fishman said. "The center is for them to learn about real businesses and the structure of things."

The center is expected to help make Columbia College a place where young entrepreneurs will want to come for their education, said Lindsay Lopez, who is the senior director of development at Columbia College.

"We want students to know we have the resources, support and faculty devoted to helping them," Lopez said. "We want to spur growth for young entrepreneurs."

Before becoming a businessman, Fishman attended Columbia College as a part of the first co-ed class. He met his wife, Barbara, there, and they graduated together in 1974. Their daughter also graduated from Columbia College in 2005. Fishman joined the Board of Trustees in 2011 and has made donations in the past. He has also developed two internship programs for the school. 

"Columbia College gave me an opportunity to become independent, a self-starter and a self-motivator," Fishman said. "This is my opportunity to give back and to support a youth that is full of potential future business leaders."

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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