November 17, 1996
Caltech Dorm Celebrates the Spirit of Enterpreneurship
PASADENA, Calif. -- Although Kai Zhu, a 20-year-old student at the
California Institute of Technology, is majoring in physics, he says he
could see himself having a career as a businessman.
"I want to make a lot of money," he said.
To that end, Zhu, of Houston, who is treasurer of the campus entrepreneur
club and a member of the student stock investment club, is hoping to
increase his money-making skills by living in a new dormitory where
everything revolves around success in business.
Called Avery House (after Stanton Avery, founder of an adhesive products
company), the $16.1 million Spanish mission-style residence is thought to
be the nation's first dormitory to "embody the spirit of entrepreneurship."
Corporate leaders -- many of them alumni -- will give talks in the library
(which is lined with photographs and life stories of business leaders), eat
with students in the dining hall and live in the dormitory for a few days
when they visit.
Although the house has been open for a month, the program formally began
this week with a visit from Bill Gross, founder of a children's computer
software company. Gross graduated from Caltech in 1981 and is a trustee of
"What can be more compelling than getting real life stories from people who
have done exceptional things," said Gary J. Schwarzmueller, executive
director of the Association of College and University Housing
By bringing in corporate leaders and entrepreneurs, said Kim D. West,
director of residence life, the university, best known for its science and
engineering programs, hopes to expose students to more than just
scholarship and research. The lectures at the dormitories will be open to
anyone on campus.
Yet for all the planning, some of the 130 students living in Avery House
say the amenities, more than the philosophy, have drawn them to it. Air
conditioning, good meals and rooms with courtyard views were the
attractions most often mentioned by about a dozen students.
"There are people here who would be interested in hearing the speakers,"
said Ben Williamson, 16, a sophomore in computer science who enrolled at
Caltech at age 14. "But I don't think there was a single person who said,
'Avery is the entrepreneurial house, I want to live there.' "
Copyright 1996 The New York Times Company