Peter Wollons—Advocate Extraordinaire

By Marya Jones Barlow
 
Peter Wollons

Peter Wollons knows a good investment when he sees one. The Calabasas businessman started an aircraft surplus company in 1972 and built it into Airborne Technologies, a worldwide supplier of airframe structural components for military and commercial use. In 2008, he helped fund and launch FaceFirst, cutting-edge facial recognition software used by law enforcement, airport, security, casino and retail clients. But he also counts CSU Channel Islands among his most important investments.

“Each year I receive letters from scholarship recipients thanking me and saying they couldn’t have graduated without my help,” he said. “I am so proud of them and gratified that my contributions mattered.”

After visiting the campus at his friend Herb Rosencrantz’s request in 2006, Wollons became a firm believer in the CI mission. Now a dedicated supporter and member of CI’s Foundation Board and Business & Technology Partnership (B&TP), Wollons is seeing firsthand the benefits of CI – and helping spread the message to others.

“I’m impressed with the students coming out of CI programs, and their future benefit to the business and technology sector as skilled employees,” he said. “Providing opportunities is good for these students, good for their futures, good for local businesses, and good for our region and country as a whole.”

Wollons funds student scholarships through his company, Airborne Technologies, and is a regular sponsor of CI events. As a Foundation Board member, he works with President Rush and leaders from the campus and community to guide CI’s future growth, consider programs to benefit students and the region, and help spread awareness and support. As a member of the B&TP, he helps unite the University with business and technology companies, fostering partnerships that promote internship and job opportunities for students and guide CI’s curriculum to meet regional employers’ needs.

Wollons reflects with pride on the notable transformations the campus has undergone in its 12-year history, including beautifully built and renovated buildings, caringly conserved open spaces, expanded academic programs, and a rising population of successful graduates.

He also emphasizes the vital role of donors, businesses and community partners in ensuring CI’s continued trajectory of growth. In the coming years, the master plan calls for increased enrollment, new programs like engineering and health sciences, intercollegiate sports, and infrastructural improvements such as new classrooms, student housing, and a multi-purpose event center. Donors also provide critical support for scholarships, student and faculty research, and labs and equipment.

“While the State is funding the basic operating costs of the campus for the first time in many years, it does not cover the plans for any expansion,” Wollons said. “Donor support is essential – and it conveys a global benefit. A larger campus will attract commerce, create jobs, and bring attention to Ventura County as a growth center.”

Along with his family, work and classic car obsession, Wollons now describes CI as one of his “passions.” The CI advocate uses his entrepreneurial spirit and expertise to inspire new donors, partnerships, and programs with regional economic appeal.

“I think under the leadership of Dr. Rush, all the dreams of making this one of the top universities in the county will come true,” he said. “The enthusiasm I see in the students, the faculty and the staff about the campus makes me feel proud to be a part of it.”

 

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© Spring 2014 / Volume 18 / Number 1