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San Diego State University

Fowler College of
Business Administration

SDSU Alum Among Influential Leaders

James Sinegal

AACSB International, the global accrediting body and membership association for business schools, announced yesterday that San Diego State University College of Business Administration alumnus James Sinegal (’59) has been recognized as one of the first 100 AACSB Influential Leaders.

Sinegal’s work exemplifies the innovative mindset and meaningful contributions to society that SDSU College of Business graduates display around the world and every day—whether they operate within large corporations, small businesses, or the nonprofit sector.

Sinegal, co-founder and former CEO of Costco, is one of SDSU’s most successful business alums. He started his career as an 18-year-old SDSU student working in the warehouse for retail icon Sol Price. Rising up the ranks, he worked for Price for almost 30 years before striking out on his own to start Costco with his business partner, Jeff Brotman. Today, Costco has more than 670 warehouses and more than 70 million shopping members throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, Australia, Mexico, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

Sinegal was named one of the 100 most influential people by Time Magazine in 2006 and ranked No. 9 on Forbes magazine’s annual CEO list in 2005. He is a founding member of SDSU’s Campanile Foundation board of directors and serves on the board of advisors for SDSU’s College of Business Administration. He was recognized by the university with an honorary doctorate degree in 1999.

Sinegal and his wife, Janet, are passionate supporters of SDSU and have given more than $3.4 million to the university to support student scholarships.

It may be a cliché to say that someone is an inspiration to others, but Jim Sinegal is exactly that. We are very proud of him and so very appreciative of the message he provides our students.
Dennis Cradit

A normal guy

“Jim does so much for this university and this college, not only because of his extraordinary professional accomplishments, but because of who he is as a person: a decent, hard-working, normal guy,” said Dennis Cradit, dean of SDSU’s College of Business. “It may be a cliché to say that someone is an inspiration to others, but Jim Sinegal is exactly that. We are very proud of him and so very appreciative of the message he provides our students.”

Sinegal joins individuals such as the CEO of one of the world’s largest global relief services, a visionary behind the revolutionary global coffee phenomenon, as well as an enterprising president credited with reviving an international toy industry favorite. More than 20 industry sectors, from consumer products to healthcare to nonprofits, across 20 countries, are included in this year’s group.

“I’m very appreciative that SDSU would consider nominating me,” said Sinegal. “I’m very proud of the university, which I often describe as the best value in education in America, and my wife Janet and I feel that supporting the university is very compelling.”

Making an impact

For the nomination process, AACSB developed a short list of open-ended questions that provided a framework for expectations for nominees. From April to June 2015, AACSB-accredited schools submitted notable alumni who have made (or are making) an impact in the world. From the nominations, a selection committee reviewed and chose stories that show the positive impact business school graduates have made on society.

“It is my honor to recognize James Sinegal for his contributions as an Influential Leader, and to thank San Diego State University for its dedication to providing a business education environment based on engagement, innovation, and impact,” said Thomas R. Robinson, president and chief executive officer of AACSB International. “If told, the success stories of all business school graduates would fill unmeasurable volumes. AACSB is honored to celebrate Jim Sinegal—and the collective 100 Influential Leaders—as a representation of how business school alumni have positively influenced society, as well as the management education industry’s, past, present, and promising future.”

For the full list of recipients, visit the AACSB website.