Steven Blank H’11 Establishes Term Chair for Innovation

Steven Blank, an award-winning educator, author and entrepreneur, has established a term chair for innovation to be held by Philadelphia University’s Vice President for Innovation D.R. Widder.

The Steve Blank Innovation Chair will help the University foster innovation in new ways, create opportunities for future industry partnerships and strengthen the academic curriculum designed to achieve innovation.

Photo“Philadelphia University is a national leader in developing an award-winning curriculum designed specifically to teach innovation,” Philadelphia University President Stephen Spinelli Jr. said. “Steve Blank is a great entrepreneur and a world-class entrepreneurship educator, teaching across the globe and in some of America’s top universities. His generous gift is as important in its endorsement of our educational approach as it is in financially supporting Philadelphia University.”

“Philadelphia University was one of the first institutions of higher education to recognize that there needed to be a new model for delivering education, one that mirrors the conditions of the business world,” Blank said. “The University empowers students, starting at the undergraduate level, to become adept at working on multidisciplinary teams not only to solve problems, but to find them. When you learn in that type of environment, one in which you’re expected to add value, you’ll be innovative by necessity.”

“I get excited by that kind of entrepreneurial spirit and I love PhilaU’s role as a positive disruptor in higher education,” Blank said. “That’s why I’m extremely pleased to establish a term chair in innovation at Philadelphia University.”

Widder, who joined PhilaU in 2010 as its first executive director of innovation, said. “Steve Blank’s support for this new innovation chair is the most inspiring validation of our unique approach to education.”

At PhilaU, innovation is integrated throughout the curriculum as part of the University’s Nexus Learning approach to teaching and learning, which is transdisciplinary, collaborative, based on real-world projects with industry partners and infused with the liberal arts.  This approach is fully embodied by the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, which has core interdisciplinary courses required each year for all design, engineering and business students.

The Steve Blank Innovation Chair will help advance a number of vital educational and operational objectives, including the Innovation Nexus Program, which supports industry partnerships with such global companies as Unilever, Comcast and Johnson & Johnson. These partnerships give multi-disciplinary student teams the opportunity to develop real-world, market-driven solutions while gaining feedback from industry experts.

In May 2011, Blank gave the Commencement address at PhilaU and received the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters. With an affinity for aeronautics and technology, Blank joined the U.S. Air Force and learned the skills he would later use to launch eight successful technology start-ups in Silicon Valley.

“As a thought leader in entrepreneurship and innovation education, his support of Philadelphia University is invaluable,” Widder said.

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