Photo by Craig Kohlruss

William Lyles (Alumnus), Arthur Safstrom Service Award


A 1955 graduate from Purdue University, Dr. William “Bill” Lyles is true to his entrepreneurial and engineering roots. He finds joy in creating — in working with others to build a prosperous future, and in investing in the community where he lives.

That joy has inspired thousands at Fresno State and in the greater community for the better part of the last three decades.

Bill is a businessperson with companies in construction and real estate development, and he has been involved in several civic organizations such as Valley Public Television, local and state Chamber of Commerce, the Boys and Girls Club, the Rotary Club of Fresno and more. His service stretches to every corner of the University, including Athletics, College of Arts and Humanities, Craig School of Business, Henry Madden Library and presidential initiatives.

In 2001, Bill received the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Fresno State for his demonstrated support of humanity.

“The best thing I can do, with my limited resources, is to put something into the local area where I live, and hopefully make a dent and give a chance for upward mobility for those left behind,” Bill says.

In an effort to create opportunities for local youth — who he believes will go on to make macroeconomic changes to the region — Bill, his family and their companies dedicated a large commitment to Fresno State’s College of Engineering in 2008. The college aims to prepare more students in the Valley for careers in engineering and construction management.

Bill also partnered with Fresno State to create the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in 2003. The nationally-ranked center fosters innovation and entrepreneurial behaviors across the Central Valley and around the globe.

“The money we put in can’t do it alone; it can only be a key part of it,” Bill says. “You have to have the heart of the people that are running the system believe it’s important, and you have to have other people in the community join in with you.”

Bill serves as a mentor for Fresno State students, joining them for a casual lunch or speaking to them at a formal event, inspiring them to work together to create a prosperous future.

“Nobody ever does anything by themselves,” Bill says. “They do it because they’re part of a team. With the leadership at Fresno State, we are proud of what is being accomplished now.”

Lyles College News contributed to this story.