Capital campaign to establish new entrepreneurial center

by Berit Svenson | 5/14/18 2:00am

In response to the need to prepare its students for an increasingly modern and innovative society, the College will establish a new center for entrepreneurship as part of its $3 billion capital campaign, entitled “The Call to Lead.” The center, which will be named the Magnuson Family Center for Entrepreneurship, will serve as the official organizational structure for Dartmouth’s current and future entrepreneurial programming and resources, Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network director and the center’s future director Jamie Coughlin wrote in an email statement.

With an ultimate investment goal of $40 million, the College has already accumulated $36 million for the new center, which includes a donation of $20 million from Allison and Rick Magnuson ’79. Sixteen additional alumni have also contributed $1 million each to the establishment of the center. The donors comprise the Dartmouth Founders Circle.

The new center will be located on the west end of campus in a new shared building with the College’s computer science and engineering programs.

According to Rick Magnuson, founder and executive managing director of GI Partners, he wanted to contribute to the establishment of the new center “because of the entrepreneurial experience [he] had as an undergraduate and the opportunity to help students and faculty succeed with their entrepreneurial ventures as both undergraduates and graduates.”

The center is the next step in the College’s plan to enlarge the campus’s entrepreneurship presence, according to Coughlin. After the success of DEN’s expansion in 2013 and the creation of the DEN Innovation Center, Coughlin said the College wanted to “create a more permanent program within the institution.”

DEN was originally created in 2001 as a network of alumni affinity groups focused on entrepreneurship, but its vision and brand were broadened in 2013 to include new people, programs and resources, according to the Office of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer website.

“[The new center] is an acceleration of what we’re doing right now,” Coughlin said. “We’re focused on continuing experiential learning, providing much more actual startup support and alumni engagement.”

The new center will build on the opportunities already offered to current DEN members. DEN currently provides students interested in entrepreneurship ways to become involved in actual business ventures and meet notable figures in the entrepreneurial world.

“By week five, right when I got on campus, I was working on a Tuck startup,” DEN member Kevin Ge ’21 said. “I found that to be insane.”

With the creation of the new center, there will be more financial support for students’ startups, according to Coughlin.

Many proposed startups, such as the development of drone technology used to distribute medicine in underdeveloped areas of the world, address global concerns using modern technology, he said.

“Digital technology has transformed every sector of society, and brought innovation and efficiencies to so many dimensions of our lives,” Founders Circle member Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe ’81 wrote in an email statement. “But we also need innovative thinking and entrepreneurship to address some of the downside consequences of digital technology for society.”

Donahoe wrote that she hopes for the new center to cultivate student leaders who can apply their entrepreneurial skills “to addressing the social, economic and political challenges that flow from digitization.”

The new center will facilitate innovative thinking, provide funding and allow students access to unique opportunities, according to the new center’s director Jamie Coughlin.

“At the end of the day, it’s about sharing this entrepreneurial thinking with everybody across campus,” Coughlin said. “Because, regardless of whether or not you start the venture, you will benefit from it.”

Ge is a former member of The Dartmouth.