The Entrepreneurship Professor Known as Grampa Fred

The Entrepreneurship Professor Known as Grampa Fred

By Lydia Chen Shah, MBA ‘05 | May 28, 2015

On the first night of entrepreneurship class, he told us to call him “Grampa Fred.” I exchanged glances with fellow MBA students, wondering if this guy was serious. Was it really ok to call him Grampa Fred or was it a trick to see who used proper business etiquette?

Mentor, Motivator, Coach

This professor with white fluffy hair, who almost always dressed in a black sweater and black slacks, was one of the most impactful teachers during the course of my MBA studies. I’ve heard countless alumni express the same sentiments about Dr. Fred Kiesner.

His voice still rings in my head, “You want to be an entrepreneur? You have to be willing to risk failure. Give it all you got. Only then will you learn and know what you need to succeed.”

Grampa Fred built the LMU Entrepreneurship Program from the ground up, turning it into one of the most notable entrepreneurship programs in the nation. His classes were always “a must” when MBA students asked each other what courses to take. It wasn’t just a class with him. He gave us solid business lessons that rang home.

Dr. Kiesner retired in 2013 after 39 years at LMU and having taught over 10,000 students. He was selected as the College of Business Administration’s “Teacher of the Year” 11 times and received the Fritz B. Burns Distinguished Teaching Award - LMU’s highest teaching honor. He served as the Conrad N. Hilton Chair of Entrepreneurship and has been recognized by Entrepreneur magazine, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Acton Foundation for Entrepreneurial Excellence, to name a few of his accolades. What a record.

While we often called him Grampa Fred outside of the classroom, we always addressed him as Dr. Kiesner.

Entrepreneurship Scholarship

Dr. Kiesner’s legacy continues through the Fred and Elaine Kiesner Scholarship fund. Proceeds honor deserving graduate and undergraduate entrepreneurship students. Nearly $70,000 has been raised toward the $100,000 goal to make the scholarship fund endowed. If you were lucky enough to have been taught by Grampa Fred, I hope you’ll join me in supporting this effort. Please select the “Fred and Elaine Kiesner Scholarship” option when you make a gift.

To learn more about the LMU MBA Program and our nationally-ranked Entrepreneurship Program, attend an info session or contact us at 310.338.2848 or