Charles “Chuck” Noski was 17 years old in 1969 when he embarked upon what would be a lifelong relationship with California State University, Northridge, which was then known as San Fernando Valley State College.
Working two to three part-time jobs at a time as an undergraduate, Noski earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration in 1973, and a master’s degree in accounting in 1995. He would ultimately be awarded an honorary doctorate in 2007. The lessons he learned at CSUN helped him gain the business acumen that would lead to a brilliant career: Following nearly 20 years with “Big Four” accounting firm Deloitte & Touche, Noski went on to hold senior executive positions at Bank of America, Northrop Grumman Corporation, AT&T and Hughes Electronics.
In recent years, he has also served on the boards of directors of companies such as Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Avon Products and Priceline. In 2002, the CSUN Alumni Association honored Noski as a Distinguished Alumnus, and in 2011 the CSUN Foundation Board of Directors recognized Noski as an Emeritus Director for life following his many years of service on that board.
When he returned to campus as a Deloitte partner to do recruiting, what he saw at the business college impressed him. “CSUN students were better prepared and had a stronger foundation to go out into the world and pursue their careers,” he said.
Noski and his wife, Lisa, have been actively involved with CSUN for many years, supporting a variety of educational and other initiatives, including the Valley Performing Arts Center. Most recently, they created the Noski Family Scholarship, which will annually grant four accounting students who have a solid grasp on the direction of their future careers the opportunity to pursue their business education at CSUN.
The couple chose accounting majors as their initial focus because of their respective backgrounds — both Chuck and Lisa are CPAs and were the first in their families to graduate from college. “Accounting is really the basis of all business,” Lisa said. “We felt so fortunate to have had the experience and chance to attend college, and we wanted to help other people have that same chance.”
What Noski remembers most about his own education at CSUN’s business college (now the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics) are the relationships he built with his professors.
“They had been out in the real world,” Chuck said. “They could help prepare you for the competition and business environment you’d encounter. They were great teachers — they were not only very adept with the subject matter, but they knew how to communicate it. They really cared about their students, and that showed inside and outside the classroom. To this day I still stay in touch with some of those professors.”
Noski also fondly recalls his time as a saxophonist for CSUN’s marching band, playing at Devonshire Downs where the school’s football team then played its games.
“The music program at CSUN was amazing,” he said. “We came out onto the field like a big rock band. It was like being on a stage — the stage just happened to be green and 100 yards long — and the crowd in the stands loved the contemporary music we played.”
But what he is most grateful for are the opportunities his CSUN education afforded him. “When I think about the chance to give back to CSUN and its students today,” he said, “I really come back to the word ‘opportunity.’ We’re all different. We all have different strengths, different weaknesses and face different challenges. We come from different backgrounds. But what we all deserve, I think, is an opportunity.”
Although the couple has contributed to other causes, they said that gifts to CSUN leave them with an uplifting effect.
“I’ve seen the impact on students. I’ve seen the enthusiasm of professors to have the resources, tools and capabilities to do an even better job of being a teacher,” Chuck said. “For us, we hope this new scholarship will be one of the best returns on investment.
“You can go to classes. You can take notes. You can regurgitate facts on tests, but that’s not learning. My experience both as a student here and later recruiting students from the campus was that the students here understood the material, the theory and the reality of what they were getting into as they began their careers. When I think about my own education and what I’ve been able to accomplish in my career, it really started here.”