San Marcos,
08:30 AM

$225,000 Gift from Burnhams a Boon for Nonprofits, CSUSM Students

By Eric Breier

Malin Burnham is guided by a noble philosophy: “Community Before Self.”

It’s not just the title of his recent book or simply a phrase on his business cards. Those three words have guided Burnham through decades of helping to improve the San Diego region and the lives of those who reside here.

It’s also a philosophy that aligns perfectly with the mission of Cal State San Marcos.

Burnham and his wife Roberta recently continued their long history of supporting CSUSM with a $225,000 gift through the Burnham Foundation to establish the Burnham Leadership Experience in the University’s College of Business Administration (CoBA).

“Philanthropy provides satisfaction in seeing something done that might not otherwise have been accomplished,” Malin Burnham said. “But it takes teamwork to get it done. Cal State San Marcos has a great tradition of collaborating with leaders, businesses and community members to make our region better for all. I’m pleased that the Burnham Leadership Experience will help CSUSM continue to fulfill that mission.”

Malin and Roberta Burnham have been supporters of CSUSM since its founding, from providing annual Burnham Foundation Scholarships to business students who embody the philosophy of “Community Before Self” to collaborating with MBA students to complete feasibility studies on the creation of a new international airport in the North County region.

That tradition of giving continues through the Burnham Leadership Experience, which will operate under the umbrella of CSUSM’s Senior Experience Program, a CoBA hallmark for 25 years.

A requirement for all CSUSM undergraduate business students, the Senior Experience Program matches teams of students with projects submitted by a variety of businesses and organizations. The program has proven to be a win-win as students gain valuable work experience as consultants on rigorous real-world projects while businesses gain concentrated attention from teams of students who provide a fresh, independent perspective.

Organizations pay $1,500 to participate in the Senior Experience Program. Nearly 2,000 organizations have been positively impacted in the 25 years of the Senior Experience Program’s existence, and nearly half of the projects completed by CSUSM students have been for nonprofit organizations. However, the Burnham Leadership Experience will open the door for additional nonprofits with limited funds.

“Malin and Roberta Burnham’s gift will significantly increase the impact that our students are able to have on the nonprofit sector in San Diego County,” said Ed Ashley, CoBA’s director of business community relations. “The Burnham Leadership Experience will provide an excellent opportunity for nonprofit organizations that may not have had the means to participate in the past.”

The Burnham Leadership Experience will underwrite the cost for three nonprofits to participate every semester in perpetuity.

Through the program, CSUSM students will provide participating nonprofits with numerous benefits, including:

  • analytical, comprehensive and implementable solutions to defined challenges;
  • determining stronger business practices;
  • helping to create organizational efficiencies; and
  • expanding community services.

More than 7,200 students have completed the Senior Experience Program, providing them with practical learning and leadership experience as well as problem-solving skills using a team- and service-oriented approach.

Much like Malin Burnham’s philosophy of “Community Before Self” aligns with CSUSM’s mission, the students’ experiences in the Senior Experience Program, and now the Burnham Leadership Experience, align closely with Burnham’s seven virtues of excellence: commitment, dedication, hard work, teamwork, follow through, playing by the rules and planning ahead.

“Roberta and I continue to be impressed by the caliber of CSUSM’s students, their commitment to community and their responsiveness to industry,” Burnham said. “It’s exciting to be part of a future-focused university that is positively impacting our region.”