The Fermanian School of Business of Point Loma Nazarene University named its “Student-Entrepreneur of the Year” at the annual Entrepreneur Enrichment Program (EEP) Banquet on Wednesday, April 4, 2012.  

The team of 2011 alum Nitasha Stiritz and current seniors Arthur Cachero and Blake Harrison received the top entrepreneur award for their innovative ‘Launch Pad’ business plan, which will produce a web-based application to communicate critical firm startup information via enhanced video in 1-2 minutes to a prospective investor or backer. The Launch Pad product will allow small startups to utilize quickly and efficiently tools that typically have been available to only larger firms. From the Entrepreneur Enrichment Endowment, created concurrently with the launching of the EEP in 2007, a cash award of $2,500 was provided to the Launch Pad team.  

Receiving $1,000, including the $500 Dave and Dorothy Latter Free Enterprise Award, was senior business student Matt Joslyn for his project, “Plane & Simple Tours.” His business plan is to provide students with inexpensive trips and services that cater toward their liking. By equipping all travelers with the basic tools to create their own unique adventure at low cost, he plans to attract a broader range of travelers.   The four other participating projects each received smaller cash awards. In addition, Phil Herbig, chief financial officer of WesPak Sales in Dinuba, Calif., received the “Inspirational Mentor Award” chosen by his peers and entrepreneurs, and the Plane and Simple Plan he co-mentored with Robert Harp and Stephen Miller will receive a $15,000 comprehensive social media marketing plan provided by the San Diego-based firm ZBiz, founded by PLNU alum Zach Johnson.  

"Over the past five years, I have had the privilege of being a mentor and a friend to young men and women who have a vision for the future,” said Herbig. “I have found the mentor process to be reciprocal as these young men and women force me to think outside the box."  

The banquet represented the completion of the fifth year of PLNU’s Entrepreneur Enrichment Program. The business plans this year represented a diversity of for-profit and non-profit interests from students and recent graduates from both the undergraduate and MBA programs at PLNU. Each fall semester, students are encouraged to present their business ideas in early stage form at the EEP Exposition, where the projects are evaluated by experienced entrepreneurs, including past EEP participants. Continuing projects were then assigned a team of mentors comprised of three, experienced business professionals, including the past PLNU Entrepreneurs of the Year, who provided counsel and advice to the projects and entrepreneurs. The EEP is unique in that it allows both undergraduate students from all disciplines and also MBA students to participate in the same entrepreneurial program.  

EEP co-founder and mentor Craig Van Hulzen, CEO of Van Hulzen Asset Management in Folsom, Calif., reflected on the mentoring process.   “The extraordinary effort of the student participants, using their free time to build on a dream, to work with peers, willing to learn from mentors, and to create opportunity for themselves is highly commendable.  It speaks well of their character, their families, and PLNU’s Fermanian Business School.  These are the qualities of successful entrepreneurs.”   All of the plans were privately reviewed and then scored by a group of twenty mentors and EEP judges, and the results were kept confidential until the announcement at the banquet on Wednesday night.   Additional information on the EEP and related activities of the Fermanian School of Business and the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute at Point Loma Nazarene University can be found at

Business, Fermanian Business & Economic Institute, PLNU

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) recently announced reaccreditation for PLNU’s School of Education (SOE) and all of its credential programs.
“This continuing accreditation reflects the high quality of PLNU’s education programs and credentials as we develop and serve education professionals,” said Dr. Bob Brower, PLNU president. “Congratulations to Dr. Gary Railsback [SOE dean] and all the members of the School of Education for a job well done!”
PLNU’s School of Education offers undergraduate degrees, master’s degrees, credentials, and certificates. The programs are designed to help students grow professionally and personally, resulting in the capacity to think critically, engage issues with their minds and hearts, and make decisions that make a difference. All this happens within the context of a highly supportive Christian community, where faculty members serve as mentors. The SOE’s district partnerships help serve local education communities and PLNU education students at the same time. Graduate program regional centers are located in Arcadia, Bakersfield, the Inland Empire, and San Diego (Mission Valley).
PLNU is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and the School of Education credential and certificate programs are accredited by the CTC. PLNU's School of Education is also a candidate for accreditation by NCATE.

Education, PLNU

Freshman Emmy Merrill is a PLNU student to watch. As a young, breakout, competitive and championship surfer, she’s on fire.

From February 19-25, 2012, Emmy was in Peru where she competed in the ISA Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championship against women of different ages from many different countries. She won first place.

She went into the competition as an 18-year-old champion surfer who has won highly competitive events, as well as national titles for her high school surf team in San Clemente. She’s what calls “the quintessential water-woman,” and we were able to get an interview with her about her surfing career and championship win at ISA.

Read a Q&A with Emmy on PLNU's blog.


Point Loma Nazarene University is helping the San Diego Foundation cast a vision for the future of the greater San Diego region.

PLNU is a participating partner in the foundation’s Our Greater San Diego Vision program that is surveying San Diego residents to help create a plan for San Diego’s future. In addition, PLNU’s director of community outreach and governmental relations, Megan Ekard Collins, is one of only 100 people selected from the San Diego region to sit on the Our Greater San Diego Vision council as an ambassador.

“We want to plan for San Diego’s future to help ensure that future generations can enjoy America’s Finest City as much as we do today. We expect 1.3 million more residents in San Diego County in the next 40 years, so now is the ideal time to cast a vision for the way we want our community to grow,” said Ekard.

Survey participants voice their opinions on issues such as education, jobs, housing, the environment, and future amenities such as parks, sports and entertainment venues, libraries, museums, and the arts.

Thus far, PLNU is reporting a survey rate that is eight times higher than most other participating organizations.

PLNU encourages students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, parents, and friends to participate in the survey and help shape our community’s future. Please visit before Jan. 31.


Point Loma Nazarene University had the 3rd highest pass rate in California on the 2010 certified public accountant (CPA) exam, according to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). PLNU was number one among private and Christian universities. PLNU graduates also had the highest average score on the exam.

“I am pleased and proud of our PLNU accounting alumni,” said accounting professor Carl Hammond. “It is rewarding to see their hard work pay off, so they are able to build valuable careers. It is an honor to teach at a university that recruits this caliber of students.”

The University of California, Berkeley ranked number one with a 60.2 percent pass rate while UCLA took the second spot with 58.6 percent. PLNU was just a tenth of a point behind UCLA with 58.5 percent. Rounding out the top five were the University of Southern California and Chapman University.

There were 57 schools in California ranked in NASBA’s report.

Business, PLNU

PLNU is pleased to welcome David McCurry as its new associate vice president for university advancement.  

McCurry brings significant fundraising experience to PLNU, including a proven track record of fundraising success in Christian higher education. He comes to PLNU from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, where he served as the senior development director. In that role, McCurry led the major gifts area and gave direction to annual giving and foundation relations. Prior to joining the fund development team at Westmont nearly 10 years ago, McCurry served as vice president of advancement at Corban University in Salem, Oregon. He also served as vice president of sales and marketing for PAR Distributors in San Jose before moving to Washington to serve as the northwest market manager for Honeywell’s automotive aftermarket division, where he managed his team’s sales and marketing efforts throughout a five-state region.

With a B.A. in business administration from Azusa Pacific University, an M.B.A. with a marketing concentration from City University, and an M.S. in nonprofit management and philanthropy from Bay Bath College in Massachusetts, McCurry is well qualified for his new role at PLNU. He has also earned the internationally recognized certified fund raising executive (CFRE) designation.

McCurry is thrilled to be a member of University Advancement at PLNU, according Joe Watkins, Ph.D., vice president for external relations, and is looking forward to interacting with alumni, parents, and friends of the institution; hearing people’s stories; and assisting donors in fulfilling their philanthropic dreams through PLNU.

As an active volunteer in the Santa Barbara area, McCurry’s community service included serving as a volunteer coach through AYSO and the Ben Page Youth Center. He has also served as a mentor at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission and as board chair of Life Network. Because of that work, K-Lite Radio and the Santa Barbara News Press honored McCurry as a community hero in 2006.

Married for nearly 23 years, David and his wife, Susan, have three children, Morgan (18), Jonah (14), and Amanda (12). In his free time, McCurry enjoys walking at the beach, reading, teaching, and nature photography.

PLNU, University Advancement