The Eaton Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation teaches capital and social entrepreneurship to equip students to start businesses and organizations and make a difference in the world. Trustee Emeritus David Eaton and his wife, Carol Eaton, provided the leadership gift for the initiative, part of Westmont’s new Center for Global Leadership.
“David and Carol have been longtime, faithful friends of Westmont, and their generosity and support blesses us,” says President Gayle D. Beebe. “We’re deeply grateful for their leadership throughout the years and their significant contributions to the college’s success. The Eaton Center will help students understand free-market economics and adapt innovative solutions from the for-profit world to solve enduring, real-life problems in the world. Students will learn to create something tangible from an idea or passion.”
David joined the Westmont Board of Trustees in 1977 and served for 30 years, including six (2001-2007) as chairman. He graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois and earned his law degree at Stanford University. He owns and manages properties throughout the United States as a partner of JDM Partners LLC; previously he worked in corporate business law. Carol attended Westmont, graduated from Wheaton and earned a master’s degree in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. The past CEO of Eaton Designs, a high-end, handmade rug manufacturing company based in Haiti, she is stepping down after 30 years on the National Trustee Board of Young Life.
“We’re thrilled to be a part of the Eaton Center,” David says. “It’s the kind of thing that interests us intellectually and that we’re emotionally invested in. I’ve spoken in class, and the students are doing marvelous work.”
“It’s important for a Christian college to offer this emphasis,” Carol says. “The Christian world needs people who are interested in business and entrepreneurship.”
“We’re enormously enthusiastic Westmont supporters,” David says. “Not enough people understand the college’s uniqueness compared to any other school. Academically it’s better than most, it’s strongly Christian, and it gives students freedom to be who they are.”
Since 2014, the Eaton Center has sponsored a trip to Haiti during spring break for Westmont students enrolled in the class Business at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Students launch small businesses there using principles of microfinance and entrepreneurship. They identify local needs, hire Haitians to manage the project, train owners of the new enterprises, help them write acceptable business plans, and introduce accountability and checks and balances for daily operations.
The Eatons are actively involved in their church in the Phoenix area and keep in close touch with their four children (Leslie Eaton Vance ’83, David Eaton ’85, Doug Eaton ’89, Chris Eaton ’94, all Westmont graduates) and 12 grandchildren, two of whom earn degrees from Westmont on May 7. Their son-in-law, Mitch Vance, has served as a Westmont trustees since 2013.