PULLMAN, Wash. — T. Gary Rogers, chairman and chief executive officer of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, will be at Washington State University to present the DeYoung Executive-in-Residence speech Thursday, March 31.

The address is set for 4:30 p.m. in the Samuel H. Smith Center for Undergraduate Education, Room 203. The College of Business and Economics will host the event.

Rogers is renowned in the business world as an entrepreneur. In 2004, he told the New York Times that he values “the ability to recognize an opportunity.” In 1977, despite no income, no savings and the experience of one failed business on his resume, he rallied investors and bought Dreyer’s, a small, San Francisco Bay Area ice cream company, for $1 million with his former partner William F. Cronk.

Over the past 28 years, with Rogers at its helm, Dreyer’s has expanded its distribution, combined with the Nestlé Ice Cream Co., and has grown into a $1.5 billion company. Today, it manufactures and distributes a full spectrum of premium and superpremium ice cream and frozen snacks internationally under the brands of Dreyer’s, Edy’s, Häagen-Dazs and Nestlé.

“We are extremely honored to welcome Gary Rogers to our campus,” said WSU President V. Lane Rawlins. “He’s lived the life of an extraordinary entrepreneur and innovator, and I look forward to this opportunity for our students and faculty to learn many lessons from his insights.”

Rogers earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of California-Berkeley, where he became an “all-university athlete” for his efforts on the rowing team and went on to Olympic trials. He obtained an MBA at the Harvard Business School, graduating as a Baker Scholar (fifth in a class of 730 students). Prior to purchasing Dreyer’s, he was founder and president of a limited menu restaurant company, Vintage House Restaurants, which operated in California and Texas. He also worked at the San Francisco office of McKinsey & Co., an international management consulting firm.

In addition to his responsibilities at Dreyer’s, he is a member of the Bay Area Council, a business-sponsored public policy organization that represents more than 200 major employers in the region. He is a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Levi Strauss & Co., Stanislaus Food Products, Gardonjim Farms and the International Dairy Foods Association.

“Gary Rogers’ accomplishments and his impact on the business world are of the highest caliber, and his message as the DeYoung Entrepreneur-in-Residence will surely inspire all who attend his presentation,” says CBE Dean Len Jessup. “We are very excited that he will be on campus as our guest.”

The DeYoung Executive-in-Residence program series was started in 1973 to bring to campus a prominent business leader. Support for the program is provided by the Dennis DeYoung family. DeYoung is a 1968 graduate of the college’s hospitality business management program and is a partner in Grand Slam Licensing Inc. in Woodinville. He received an Alumni Achievement Award from WSU in 1990.

This year’s DeYoung Executive-in-Residence program is scheduled at the forefront of WSU’s Showcase Weekend of events, including the second annual WSU Business Plan Competition hosted by the CBE and its Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. Teams of students from business and other majors will compete for prize money April 1-2 at the Lewis Alumni Centre. The college will also host its new National Board of Advisors on those days.