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Close School Founding

Damian Salas

January 30, 2013


Thanks to $12.5 million in recent gifts from the Charles and Barbara Close Foundation, Drexel University will establish the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship that will be one of a very small number of freestanding schools of entrepreneurship in the nation and the only one in Philadelphia. Building on an outstanding foundation of curriculum, programming and thought leadership at Drexel, the Close School will be the engine driving the expanded culture of entrepreneurship envisioned by the University’s strategic plan. “With the establishment of the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, I am confident that Drexel will soon be at the very top of the list of universities creating not just entrepreneurs, but new approaches to encouraging and realizing great ideas,” said Drexel University President John A. Fry. “The chance to launch a new school that will help deepen the culture of innovation at Drexel comes along rarely. I am proud of what the Foundation’s support and confidence have allowed us to achieve.”

The late Charles D. Close was a 1936 Drexel graduate in electrical engineering and one of the University’s most distinguished alumni. His professional success as founder, leader and investor in a series of important technology companies was based on the same entrepreneurial values that will underpin the Close School. He and his wife Barbara established an equally notable legacy of philanthropy, which continues today under the guidance of the trustees of the Close Foundation.

“The teaching, research, collaboration and consultation that the Charles D. Close School will foster across Drexel will be felt far beyond the boundaries of the University and the region, and would have made Charley proud,” said Mike Doyle of the Close Foundation Board of Trustees. The Close School will position entrepreneurship not just as a technical process of launching new companies, but as a set of personal and professional skills that foster the pursuit of innovation in business, personal and career contexts. Students in every college and school at Drexel will connect through the Close School to curricular, extracurricular and experiential programs that support their entrepreneurial efforts. The School will also serve the regional entrepreneurial and business community through its thought leadership in entrepreneurship research.

In fall 2013 the Charles D. Close School will establish its presence with programs including an “Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Community,” where like-minded students will live in a residential environment dedicated to entrepreneurship programming; “Entrepreneurship Co-ops,” offering mentoring and financial support to students who spend a co-op period developing their own business idea; and a “Launch It” course that provides students with guidance and seed money to “de-risk” their own business model. The Close School will eventually offer co-admission with other colleges and schools for entrepreneurially focused students, and ultimately build joint degree programs in entrepreneurship. The School will offer joint appointments to Drexel professors across the university whose work incorporates entrepreneurship and innovation, and will also build a “clinical faculty” of practicing entrepreneurs whose involvement will deepen Drexel’s connection to the corporate and nonprofit sectors.

“The Charles D. Close School will be the gateway through which all Drexel student entrepreneurs will begin their journeys to becoming leaders in the 21st century innovation economy,” said Dr. Donna DeCarolis, associate vice provost for entrepreneurship and one of the visionaries behind the new school, who will serve as founding dean. “Students will have the opportunity to participate in curricular, extra-curricular and experiential programs allowing them to engage in new venture creation and innovative activities. The Charles D. Close School will also be home to several centers of excellence, the first of which is the Laurence A. Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship, Drexel’s already successful catalyst and incubator for student business ideas. Ideas in the planning stage include a center that would extend Drexel’s civic engagement mission into the establishment of new ventures promoting individual and societal welfare, and a center to help develop the faculty’s skill in leveraging their innovations for economic development. More information on the Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Community is available at: Creating a Community of Young Entrepreneurs.

For more information about the Charles D. Close School and its programs, contact Dr. Donna DeCarolis at or 215.895.1795.



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