Dean’s Challenge

Designed to challenge our students to “create, collaborate, and compete,” the Dean’s Challenge has emerged as a highly rewarding (academically and financially) opportunity for individual and groups of students.

Visit the Innovation Lab in the Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business or contact John Razzouk at to learn more about the latest challenge to develop new product, service, and experience ideas.

About the Dean

Our Dean, Dr. John Thomas Dr. Thomas has more than 25 years of experience in new venture start-ups, mergers, acquisitions, capital sourcing, research and development both domestically and internationally. Dr. Thomas is Dean of the School of Business at La Sierra University (sister campus of Loma Linda University) in Riverside, California, where he teaches finance, entrepreneurship and economics and has mentored and developed four consecutive winning teams for the Students in Free Enterprise International Championship, which includes more than 1,000 colleges and universities.

A creative thinker committed to integrity, compassion, and entrepreneurship, Dr. Thomas has mentored many businesses in combining both theoretical and practical acumen to solve business problems and is considered by many as a innovative and creative deal maker. His industry experience includes global risk assessment, international finance and international trade development and retailing, franchising and distribution.

Dr. Thomas holds graduate degrees in marketing and finance, and a PhD in political economy. His thesis focused on the behavior of international lenders, and was designed to increase understanding of the nature of lending biases, and their potential contributions to financial crises. Numerous awards have honored his success as a passionate teacher who motivates students to seek and achieve excellence. Among them are the Freedom Foundation’s Leavey Award for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education (1998), the Zapara Award for Teaching Excellence (1996), Students In Free Enterprise Hall of Fame, and the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce Hero Award for Community.

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