Our Founder

Dr. Donald Hecht: A Visionary in Distance Education

In 1978, Dr. Donald Hecht founded a new university and served as its first president. It was initially called Southern California University for Professional Studies (SCUPS) and was destined to become an innovating institution in distance (and, later, online) learning.

Its name was changed to California Southern University in 2010 prior to receiving the grant of accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission. CalSouthern has since been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission, which is one of six regional accrediting bodies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Dr. Hecht also founded Northcentral University in Prescott, Arizona and served as its initial president. With academic programs similar to those offered by SCUPS, NCU became the first entirely online university offering doctorates (PhDs and applied doctorates) to receive regional accreditation.

In December 2008, Dr. Hecht sold NCU in order to return to California and his “firstborn,” CalSouthern. Dr. Hecht is actively involved with CalSouthern as its visionary mentor and consultant. Today, the university offers more than 25 degree and certificate programs across six schools.

Prior to founding SCUPS, Dr. Hecht’s academic experience includes roles as a high school teacher (Brooklyn Technical High School); community college associate professor (Queensborough Community College); and Dean of Instruction and professor (West Coast University).

Dr. Hecht also has extensive business experiences as a senior engineer (Ford’s Instrument Division of Sperry Rand) and as a management and business consultant.

Dr. Hecht earned a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from New York University, a Master of Industrial Engineering from Columbia University and a Doctor of Science in Industrial and Management Engineering, also from Columbia University.

Dr. Hecht is a member of the Founders Society of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC and has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Big Brothers Big Sisters (Prescott, AZ) for more than 15 years. He is on the Board of Directors of the Pacific Symphony (Orange County, CA) and a longtime supporter of the Mozart Classical Orchestra.

Dr. Donald Hecht talks about what makes CalSouthern unique

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