Entrepreneur, philanthropist a shining example of overcoming humble beginnings
Glenn Stearns ’87, star of the Discovery Channel’s “Undercover Billionaire,” will serve as Towson University’s 2023 university Commencement speaker during the College of Business & Economics (CBE) ceremony on May 24 at SECU Arena.
A TU alumnus, Stearns earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and formed the California mortgage company Stearns Lending at 25. By 2010, his company reached nearly $1 billion in monthly funded loan volume while experiencing record growth.
“We are thrilled to welcome TU alum Glenn Stearns back to campus as this year's spring Commencement speaker," says Interim President Melanie Perreault. "Not only has Glenn achieved an illustrious career as an entrepreneur and corporate leader, but he's also experienced great personal triumph as a two-time cancer survivor and avid world traveler. I know his journey and insights will inspire students as they prepare to enter the next phase of their lives."
Despite his success, life did not start out easy. Stearns often discusses his humble beginnings growing up in a low-income neighborhood outside Washington, D.C. He failed the fourth grade, was diagnosed with dyslexia and fathered a child at age 14.
Despite this, he became the first person in his family to attend college and earn a degree. He believes that facing adversity helps create a foundation for future success.
“It wasn’t until I was an adult and learned that often times the best things in life come to you wrapped in packages that appear to be full of failure and disappointment,” he says. “It’s the silver linings that make for the best success and best stories of our lives.”
He believes that despite life’s challenges, acting on opportunities is paramount.
“I’ve learned from a lot of great mentors of mine that sometimes you’ve just got to fly the plane and start putting all the pieces together while you’re in the air. And that’s basically what I did—I just got into it and didn’t know what I was doing at all. I gathered a lot of people and convinced them we can do this together. And it worked.”
Life didn’t stop throwing obstacles his way after achieving success, taking a multi-year sabbatical to overcome two separate cancer diagnoses.
He eventually sold Stearns Lending and formed Kind Lending-a company centered around kindness and putting people before profits.
All of those challenges, successes and opportunities are highlighted in his new book “InteGRITy”, an autobiography due out May 23.
Stearns will be signing copies of his new book InteGRITy at the Towson University UStore after his commencement speech. Books will be on sale for $28 with a discount for alumni, including 2023 graduates.
This will mark the second time Stearns has visited campus within the past year, speaking at the inaugural Susan Ganz College Speaker Series in October. At the event, some of his key messages were the importance of mentors, knowing your strengths and weaknesses and building a team that fills in your blind spots.
Before the event, Stearns toured campus and shared advice with many CBE students.
The title of university Commencement speaker is bestowed on one individual each year in a rotation among the colleges. Stearns will receive an honorary doctorate degree during the university commencement ceremony.
Prior TU Commencement speakers include physician and public health activist Dr. Mona
Hanna-Attisha, M.D., in 2022, leading health care executive Nancy M. Schlichting in
2021 and educator and theorist Gloria Ladson-Billings in 2019.