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New Associate Dean to Spearhead Growing Entrepreneurship at Yale SOM

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As a reflection of the growing importance of entrepreneurship at the Yale School of Management (SOM), the director of the school’s entrepreneurship initiatives has been appointed associate dean, the school announced earlier this month.

Kyle Jensen joined Yale SOM last year as the inaugural Shanna and Eric Bass ’05 Director of Entrepreneurship. Under his leadership, the school’s Program on Entrepreneurship added seven new entrepreneurship courses last year, drawing students from the entire university.

“Even in the first year of the effort to build out the entrepreneurship program, the program has become a center of activity at the school and has engaged the rest of Yale University,” SOM Dean Edward Snyder said as part of a story on the Yale SOM website. “Kyle’s leadership and the energy he brings to this new role are exemplary.”

It was based in part on this success that Jensen was appointed to the additional role as associate dean, Snyder says. Jensen’s hiring last year grew out of a task force led by Len Baker (YC ’64), a partner at venture capital firm Sutter Hill Ventures, which provided recommendations for the school’s strategy on entrepreneurship. Houston-based Velite Benchmark Capital Management Managing Partner Eric Bass (SOM ’05) and his spouse, Shanna Bass, made a gift to endow Jensen’s position.

entrepreneurship at Yale SOMIn his inaugural year as director of entrepreneurship, Jensen developed a variety of classes and extracurricular programs, including a survey course called “Entrepreneurship and New Ventures” and a practicum in which students work on their own startups. Yale SOM also now boasts a new Entrepreneurial Studies Suite in Edward P. Evans Hall.

Concurrent with Jensen’s appointment last year, Yale SOM established two new merit-based scholarships for students in each entering MBA class, which are granted on the basis of demonstrated interest in entrepreneurship and future potential as an entrepreneur. Yale SOM will also name up to five Entrepreneurial Fellows each year to receive two years of loan deferral after graduation to enable them to work full-time on a startup.

“Yale, and Yale SOM in particular, has the potential to be a real engine for innovation, and Kyle has taken some big steps toward realizing that potential,” Baker said as part of the story on the Yale SOM website.

Jensen, an entrepreneur, developer and scientist, co-founded several companies before joining the Yale SOM faculty. They include a Boston-based, venture-backed biotechnology company called Agrivida, a patent analytics provider called PriorSmart, and Pit Rho, a motorsports analytics firm. His research interests include computational biology, intellectual property and the sociology of science.

Heading entrepreneurship at Yale SOM has been a joy thanks to the students, he says. “I have a special commitment to those student entrepreneurs who chose to start ventures here and now during their brief tenure at Yale,” he said in the Yale SOM article. “It is a privilege to be in their service, and I am thankful for the adventure they inject into my life daily.”

Yale features multiple resources for entrepreneurial students to pursue their ventures both inside and outside of class. Jensen himself served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at the pan-university Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. Additional support is provided through the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design, the Center for Biomedical and Interventional Technology (CBIT), Innovate Health Yale, the Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY), and the Center for Molecular Discovery.

“My colleagues in these groups are superb and they care deeply about helping Yale founders build successful ventures,” Jensen says. “That’s where the real, high-touch support happens.”

Because many students studying entrepreneurship at Yale SOM will go on to positions at other firms before starting their own ventures, the school teaches a broad interpretation of entrepreneurship, Jensen says. “We teach how to be entrepreneurial, how to be innovative and how to lead others into the unknown in the pursuit of opportunity.” This approach is designed to give students tools they can apply in their daily lives while also fitting into Yale’s liberal arts education focus.

Jensen’s priorities in the year ahead as associate dean include expanding the use of mobile apps to enhance student participation in class. He also intends to continue taking advantage of Yale SOM’s participation in the Global Network for Advanced Management, which helps student startups with an international component find collaborators around the globe.

Yale SOM is certainly not alone among business schools in expanding its emphasis on and resources for entrepreneurship. Last week, the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business announced a $60 million alumni gift to support entrepreneurship at that school. Of course, Silicon Valley schools like Stanford Graduate School of Business and UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business have long been at the forefront of entrepreneurship, with unique curriculum offerings as well as extensive experiential learning opportunities.

The Basses, whose gift last year endowed Jensen’s position and helped jumpstart entrepreneurship at Yale SOM, are thrilled with the progress they have seen. “Providing a structure to support student entrepreneurs is an important step for Yale SOM,” they said. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the rapid growth of the program and the excitement about entrepreneurship at the school.”

Learn more about entrepreneurship at Yale SOM.