Donor Builds Relationship with Kennesaw State
KENNESAW, Ga. (Jul 21, 2020) — Having started his own business at 21 years old, Kennesaw State Foundation trustee Dave Walens understands the importance of hard work and determination.
“Entrepreneurship is close to my heart,” he said. “It’s been my life.”
Walens has built a successful career, running businesses in the exhibit and event industry for more than 30 years. As CEO and president of Exploring, Inc., Walens oversees a 150,000-square-foot fabrication facility and a team of metal fabricators, sculptors, artists, carpenters, painters and printers.
That line of work introduced Walens to Kennesaw State, as he coordinated graphic design projects branding the Coles College of Business and WellStar College of Health and Human Services. Along the way, he became familiar with the Robin and Doug Shore Entrepreneurship Center in the Coles College. He was impressed, stating that, “if the Center had been around when I was looking to go to college, I probably would’ve been a graduate of KSU.”
Walens began serving on, and then chaired, the advisory board of the Shore Entrepreneurship Center. A key initiative was Kennesaw State launching Georgia’s first undergraduate degree program in entrepreneurship in 2017.
“The perception used to be, when people heard you were an entrepreneur, that you didn’t have a job,” Walens said. “Today, entrepreneurship is something people aspire to. It’s not an easy path, but it’s a teachable one.”
Along with his contributions to the Entrepreneurship Center, Walens is in his second year of serving on the KSU Foundation Board of Trustees and he has given more than $65,000 in financial support to the University in recent months. His contributions place him in the President’s Parliament level of giving, which is undesignated support that gives KSU leadership the flexibility to respond to immediate needs, unexpected opportunities and emerging institutional priorities.
One of Walens’ passions is supporting Kennesaw State Athletics. He was one of the first donors to the Legacy Locker initiative that supports the Owls Fund, and he has contributed to the Coach Agnus Berenato Endowed Scholarship that benefits deserving KSU students impacted by cancer. A dedicated donor to the Owls football, baseball and men’s and women’s basketball programs, Walens also is a member of the KSU Athletic Association Board of Directors and has volunteered to serve as the KSU trustee representative for Athletics’ upcoming comprehensive campaign to raise money for scholarships and facility upgrades.
One of the contributions Walens made earlier this spring was a sculpture of the Kennesaw State logo that stands on the Campus Green near Kennesaw Hall. Exploring, Inc., designed, built and installed the nearly 8-foot, three-dimensional sculpture of the distinctive “KS” logo, hand-made of aluminum in black and gold atop a 33-inch concrete base.
“The entire Exploring team is very proud to be able to do this project for the University, especially for the students,” Walens said. “I have been impressed by KSU students – not only the ones in entrepreneurship, but across all academic disciplines – for being hard-working and having the mindset to succeed. That has inspired me to get involved and help where I could.”
– Paul Floeckher