Glenn Stearns meets with business students after a speaking engagement on campus in 2019.
Glenn Stearns, founder of Stearns Lending LLC and the centerpiece of Discovery’s “Undercover Billionaire,” will return to Gannon University as the keynote speaker for spring commencement.
The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 9, at Erie Insurance Arena, 809 French St.
Stearns was first introduced to the Gannon community when he went undercover to launch a business venture with aid from the university’s entrepreneurial resources, as featured on the show.
Gannon will award him with an honorary degree to recognize his contributions to our university and the Erie community.
Stearns became the first person in his family to attend college and graduated with a degree in economics from Towson University. He then moved to California where he slept on the kitchen floor of a one-bedroom apartment he shared with five other recent college graduates. Stearns waited tables as he searched for new opportunities to rise above his humble beginnings.
At 25, Stearns became a mortgage loan officer. Ten months later, in 1989, he formed his own mortgage company, Stearns Lending LLC. In 2002, Stearns was honored with Ernst & Young's prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year Award. By 2010, Stearns Lending reached nearly $1 billion a month in funding. Stearns Lending not only survived the 2007 mortgage-lending crisis, it emerged as one of the top lenders in the country. Stearns attributes his resilience to putting “people before profit” and having transparent integrity in lending standards.
The wholesale lending division became the leading lender in America and Stearns has helped more than one million families achieve homeownership. In 2014, Blackstone purchased the majority share of Stearns Lending for an undisclosed sum.
Now, Stearns is returning to his roots as a serial entrepreneur to build a new mortgage company called Kind Lending.
Stearns is also the founder of Anivive Life Science, Stearns Wholesale, Stearns Holdings, Stearns Ventures, Artemis Holdings, TriVerify, TriMavin, United Housing Services, Inc., and Mortgage Services Providers Holdings. He is an investor in Indi.com and Lender Price and the largest shareholder of California-based Infinity bank.
In 2011, Stearns was awarded the prestigious Horatio Alger of Distinguished American’s Award and was elected as its youngest serving board member.
Stearns is an inspiration to others through his story of perseverance and fierce determination. He travels the country mentoring youth and business professionals to use their own setbacks as opportunities to experience abundance and accomplishments.
Stearns and his wife, Mindy, live in southern California. He is the father of six children, and grandfather of two. The Stearns have been honored for their community service and philanthropy. They have received the prestigious Starkey Hearing Foundation's "American Couple of the Year Award," Orange County's "Giving Is Living Award,” and the 2014 Athlete's First - Orangewood Children's Foundation's "Golden Heart Award" for leadership and impact on youth.
Today, Stearns is also a highly recognized television personality after starring in Discovery’s “Undercover Billionaire.” Underdog Barbeque, the company he built on “Undercover Billionaire” is currently operating in Erie, where the show took place.
“Glenn Stearns is a gentleman who has a great story to tell. He started in a humble place and moved into a successful career. But he is not only successful; he is also a man who made significant contributions to our university and our city,” said Keith Taylor, Ph.D., president of Gannon University.