Candace Nelson

Founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes and bestselling author Candace Nelson will serve as speaker for the fourth installment of the Nelson Rusche Distinguished Lecture Series at 7:30 p.m. March 26 in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Grand Ballroom at Stephen F. Austin State University.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Candace Nelson is a serial entrepreneur, “Shark Tank” guest shark, New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, and an expert in turning one's passion into a profitable business.

She also is the guest speaker for the fourth installment of Stephen F. Austin State University’s Nelson Rusche Distinguished Lecture Series, slated for 7:30 p.m. March 26 in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Grand Ballroom on campus. A private reception and book signing will be held prior to the lecture at 6 p.m.

“The Nelson Rusche Distinguished Lecture Series was established to inspire our students to pursue their dreams by bringing highly accomplished business leaders to campus to engage in discussion as students plan their futures,” said Dr. Tim Bisping, dean of the Nelson Rusche College of Business. “Candace Nelson’s story is one of perseverance applied to passion resulting in incredible success. We are so honored to have her here to speak with our students, sharing with them her invaluable insights and expertise.”

Her book "Sweet Success: A Simple Recipe for Turning Your Passion Into Profit" published by HarperCollins Leadership in November 2022 hit No. 4 on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list, and her debut book "The Sprinkles Baking Book: 100 Secret Recipes from Candace's Kitchen" is a New York Times bestseller.

Nelson revolutionized the baking industry when she left a career in finance to start Sprinkles, the world's first cupcake bakery and Cupcake ATM. She then followed with the launch of Pizzana, a growing chain of Michelin Bib Gourmand-awarded pizzerias in the U.S. Nelson continues to expand her portfolio of investments with CN2 Ventures and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.

Bisping said that entrepreneurship is vital to the future of East Texas, which makes it crucially important for us all.

“As we work to grow our entrepreneurship initiatives in the Rusche College of Business, having someone of Candace’s caliber on campus is an incredible opportunity," he said.

The SFA lecture series was created in 2016 to honor A. Nelson Rusche, who endowed the college with a $5 million gift to provide scholarships to students majoring in business and to support other programs. Previous speakers include “Shark Tank” star and FUBU founder Daymond John in 2021, skateboarding champ Tony Hawk in 2019, and former Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush in 2016.

The Nelson Rusche Distinguished Lecture Series is free and open to the public. To purchase tickets for the 6 p.m. private reception, contact SFA's Office of Development at (936) 468-5406, or email Heather Howell, director of advancement services, at Tickets cost $100.

Free tickets for the main event at 7:30 p.m. will be available for pickup starting Feb. 15 at the Charles Bright Visitor Center downtown or at the Baker Pattillo Student Center information desk and the McGee Building, Room 137, on campus.

For more information about the lecture series, visit the Nelson Rusche Distinguished Lecture Series web page

Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 37 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at the SFA website.