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Former innovation leader stays involved with Duke

Former Duke innovation leader Kimberly Jenkins will stay involved with various Duke entrepreneurship projects.
Former Duke innovation leader Kimberly Jenkins will stay involved with various Duke entrepreneurship projects.

Former innovation and entrepreneurship leader Kimberly Jenkins has her eyes set on the west coast.

Jenkins, who resigned as adviser to the president and provost for innovation and entrepreneurship in July, will now lead the Duke in Silicon Valley, a four-week global education program that will open its doors summer 2013. As head of the program, she hopes to help bridge two of the nation’s biggest tech areas, the Research Triangle Park and the Northern California business and entrepreneurial hub.

Establishing Duke in Silicon Valley was one of Jenkins’ priorities while serving as advisor for innovation and entrepreneurship. Formerly a University trustee, Jenkins said she agreed to lead the University’s entrepreneurial initiative with the intention that she would launch efforts and then find someone else to take over. Robert Calderbank, dean of the natural sciences at Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, will serve as interim adviser.

“She left a very strong blueprint in the form of a strategic plan,” said Tom Katsouleas, dean of the Pratt School of Engineering, who worked with Jenkins to provide entrepreneurship opportunities for students. “We’ll continue with the roadmap she laid out and move out, but we knew from the beginning that she took the professional adviser role with a limited time frame in mind.”

In addition to leading the global education program, Jenkins will also work at a Silicon Valley startup but has yet to choose which one, she said. She will still reside primarily in Chapel Hill. During her two year term as the face of the University’s entrepreneurial campaigns, Jenkins said she developed a belief that Duke could have a unique ability to mold entrepreneurs from every discipline—the Duke in Silicon Valley program is designed on that tenet.

The program, which will teach the “nuts and bolts” of starting a company, will not have prerequisites. Administrators hope that it will be an interdisciplinary offering that will appeal to students across Duke’s campus, not just individuals traditionally interested in entrepreneurship like engineering and computer science students, said Emma Rasiel, director of the Financial Education Partnership and associate professor of the practice in economics. Rasiel will serve as the academic director of the program.

The program will also strengthen Duke’s west coast presence and will be closely tied to the area’s large alumni base, Jenkins said. Classes will be taught in Cupertino, Calif. on Apple’s campus, a company now spearheaded by Tim Cook, Fuqua ’88.

“It is the number one place in the U.S. for entrepreneurship,” Jenkins said. “Our students said that while many would eventually like to come back to the Research Triangle Park area, they want to spend some time in Silicon Valley to learn from the Mark Zuckerbergs of entrepreneurship.”

Although Jenkins’ focus will now be more singular, the initiative she began locally still has plenty of room to grow, she said. As the University’s entrepreneurial leader, Jenkins helped to establish the selective living group InCube, oversaw the implementation of several internship and incubator programs and worked with alumni to keep them engaged with the University and willing to mentor the next generation of entrepreneurs. Jenkins also led the initiative when it received a $15 million donation from trustee David Rubenstein in May.

In the future, the initiative will still focus on undergraduates, but leaders will also aim to provide more extensive funding and opportunities for graduate and professional students, she noted.

“Right now, I am focusing on undergraduate experience, from curriculum development, to support for student entrepreneurs, to the new Duke in Silicon Valley program,” Calderbank wrote in an email Friday. “Innovation and entrepreneurship is all about actively engaging with the world. That is a characteristic of Duke today and will only become more so in the future.”

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