In 2001, a generous gift from Bob and Julie Skandalaris established the Skandalaris Entrepreneurship Program (SEP) within the Olin Business School, with the program director reporting to the Olin Dean. The SEP was one of several programs offered through Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning. 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. In November, 2014, the Center was re-named the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
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. In the latest rankings from 2014, Washington University was one of just 6 universities to rank in the top 20 for both undergraduate and graduate programs.