Innovating Since 2001
In 2001, a generous gift from Bob and Julie Skandalaris established the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation & Entrepreneurship (then, “Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies”). When it was first formed, the Center was housed within Olin Business School and was one of several programs offered through Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning. In 2003 it became an independent interdisciplinary center open to students, faculty and staff from all disciplines. In November 2014, under new leadership, the Center took on its current name so that it reflects the university’s mission to foster innovation in addition to entrepreneurship. Finally, in April 2016, the Center moved out of the Business School building to new innovative space in Mallinckrodt, the hub of creativity on campus, making the connection to innovation and creativity clear.
In March, 2003, the Kauffman Foundation invited Washington University to apply for Kauffman Campuses Initiative grant. The goal of the Kauffman Campuses initiative was to make entrepreneurship education available across campuses, enabling any student, regardless of field of study, access to entrepreneurial training, to transform the way colleges and universities prepare students for success in the American economy. In December, 2003, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton, the late Vice Chancellor for Students James McLeod, and Professor Frank C-P Yin traveled to Kansas City with the SEP director to present to Kauffman their proposal to make “one giant leap in entrepreneurship at Washington University.” Later that month, the Kauffman Foundation awarded a total of $25 million to eight universities including a total of nearly $3.7 million to Washington University. Additional gifts from Bob and Julie Skandalaris established the interdisciplinary Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and the Hatchery Seed Capital Fund to fund new student and alumni ventures.
Washington University’s undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurship programs have consistently placed in the top 25 in the annual ranking of the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine.