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Titan Leader and Business Professor Anil Puri Looks Ahead to New Chapter

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Faculty, staff and friends of Cal State Fullerton’s College of Business and Economics gathered April 19 to celebrate the career and accomplishments of Anil Puri, who served as dean from 1998 to 2016, and is now retiring from teaching and college leadership. Puri will continue to present the periodic economic forecasts, such as the recent Economic and International Trade Forecast, through the Woods Center for Economic Analysis and Forecasting.

For generations, Puri’s influence and leadership have defined the largest accredited business college on the West Coast.

The Journey Begins: From Punjab to Fullerton

Puri’s life journey began in Punjab, a state in northwestern India bordering Pakistan and home to one of the oldest civilizations on the planet, the Indus Valley culture that flourished prior to the time of Abraham.

In India and many other developing countries, an education in economics is often viewed as the most prestigious career path a person could achieve.

Puri devoted himself to the study of economics, earning a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree from Punjab University in the 1970s.

“In India, we worked hard, but it was more structured with directed instruction,” Puri told the Orange County Register in 2006 about his educational experience. “Here, the burden of learning is on the student — and that’s an advantage for real-life training. You are better off in the working world with that independence and managing of yourself.”

After coming to the United States and earning an economics doctorate at the University of Minnesota, Puri accepted a lecturer position at Cal State Fullerton in 1977.

“On my first day of class at Fullerton, I was nervous and wondered if I would connect with the students,” said Puri. “Turned out that I liked the excitement of the give and take.”

Within a year, Puri accepted a tenure-track faculty role, the beginning of a meteoric rise to leadership at the college that included serving as department chair of economics and interim associate vice president for academic programs.

Puri also established himself as an authority on divining the ups and downs of the economy, becoming the keynote speaker of the college’s economic forecast conferences that many Orange County businesses, policymakers and community leaders rely on to understand the next chapter in the ever-changing modern economic landscape during an era that spanned the dot-com bubble, Y2K worries, 9/11, the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more about Puri and his impact on CSUF Business News.

Daniel Coats