The Close School of Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is a central theme of the Drexel University Strategic Plan 2012-2017: Transforming the Modern University. The cultivation of entrepreneurship and innovation is the key to success in today’s world. Drexel’s strong entrepreneurial and innovative culture extends across academic programs through curricular and experiential activities, faculty and student research, and various partnerships with business, non-profits, and government.
The Close School of Entrepreneurship is the hub of such activities, working in alignment with all colleges and schools at Drexel. As a freestanding academic school it provides curricula and activities for students to learn and practice innovative behavior.
The Close School defines entrepreneurship as more than starting a company or sparking innovation within established organizations. For the Close School, entrepreneurship consists of three dimensions:
- A habit of mind and an attitude; a skill set applicable to pursuing innovation in business, personal, and career contexts.
- An approach to life built around innovative thinking, calculated daring and proactive behavior.
- The process through which an individual or team creates or recognizes opportunities to pursue something of value, regardless of the resources available.
The Close School's academic programs prepare students to face the challenges of self-employment and new venture creation in an evolving 21st century workforce. This pioneering approach to entrepreneurship education addresses a very real market need — an extremely competitive global workforce that increasingly values initiative, independence, and the intellectual dexterity to rethink old ways of doing things and invent new ones.
Charles D. Close was a groundbreaking entrepreneur who experienced success as founder, leader, and investor in a series of technology companies. He also was one of Drexel University’s most distinguished alumni, graduating in 1936 with a degree in electrical engineering.
Mr. Close was the former Chairman of the Board of Expansion Seal Technologies Group, and former Chairman of the Board of CDS Analytical. Earlier in his career he was President of Continental Disc Corporation, Technical Investor at Kellet Corp, President and Chairman of Compudyne Corporation, and Founder and President of Fluid Controls Company. Over the years, he also published a number of technical articles on instrument controls and systems. Mr. Close was a Director at J.W. Microelectronics, Athena Controls, Kellet Corp., Chemical Data Systems, Instrument Society of America, and General Components. In addition, he was a trustee for the privately-held CDC Fund.
In addition to the Drexel 100, Mr. Close was also inducted into the Alumni Circle of Distinction for the College of Engineering. As a student, he was President of the Chess Club and a member of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.
He and his late wife, Barbara, established a philanthropic legacy that included a sizable anonymous gift in 1999 to Drexel University that helped launch and build the Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship.
In March 2009, the Charles and Barbara Close Foundation gave Drexel $1.5 million to establish the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, and in December 2012, the foundation’s gift of $12.5 million established the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship.
Mr. Close, whom friends knew as “Charley,” enjoyed skiing, music, science, and was an avid golfer and member of the Cedarbrook Country Club in Blue Bell, PA. Charles D. Close passed away on September 6, 2009, at the age of 94. His legacy lives on in the generations of future entrepreneurs being educated in the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship.
In 2014, the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship became the first first freestanding school of entrepreneurship in the nation to offer degrees.
Goals and Objectives
Infuse entrepreneurship as a way to think, learn, and succeed across the University in terms of values, behaviors, and process, regardless of major.
Provide a coordinated approach to entrepreneurship education throughout Drexel University.
Complement and enhance undergraduate and graduate education outcomes for all Drexel University students by developing entrepreneurial thinking within the curriculum and opportunities for entrepreneurial practice.
Provide students with different paths to engage, learn, and live entrepreneurship, depending on their personal level of interest and career ambitions, having exposed all to introductory concepts and approaches.
Integrate academic and campus life activities as they relate to entrepreneurship providing multiple paths that align with student aspirations.
Encourage and create a supportive academic and physical environment to allow the pursuit of student and faculty passions, and big ideas.
The Close School of Entrepreneurship offers students various paths to becoming an “entrepreneur.” The School is based on the premise that all students have the potential to be innovative: to take their ideas, in whatever context, and make their ideas a reality. The curricular and co-curricular programs are formulated to accommodate students’ potential paths to learning and living entrepreneurship.
The School’s curricular initiatives emphasize interdisciplinary coursework in collaboration with other academic units. The School offers a BA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, minors in Energy Innovations, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Health Innovations, and Social Entrepreneurship. In addition, elective courses with minimal or no prerequisites are available to all Drexel students to integrate entrepreneurial education with all other academic disciplines at the University. The School collaborates with the Office of Research and Technology Commercialization in developing programs and activities focused on academic entrepreneurship. Through the appointment of joint interdisciplinary faculty, a core of clinical faculty (serial entrepreneurs and seasoned executives) and tenured/tenure-track faculty, the Close School will cultivate a research agenda, providing thought leadership to academics and practitioners. Finally, the Close School of Entrepreneurship collaborates with regional and national organizations and the entrepreneurial community to advance innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives.
Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Community
The Close School of Entrepreneurship has created a community of young entrepreneurs at Drexel. Students of all backgrounds and interests, united by dreams of starting companies and pursuing their entrepreneurial passions, participate in a unique residential program supported by dedicated faculty and staff. This close-knit community of enterprising students lives together and enjoys targeted training, fun activities, and field trips as well as experienced and connected mentors able to foster their innovative aspirations.
The Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Community hosts approximately twenty incoming freshmen annually and is comprised of students from different majors across the University. All full-time entering freshmen planning to live on campus with an interest in innovation and entrepreneurship are encouraged to apply regardless of undergraduate major. Students in this community all live on the same floor and wing of Myers Hall.
The co-op experience is the hallmark of a Drexel education. Drexel students intersperse one or three six-month periods of work within their academic plans of study. By weaving together scholarly and practical experiences, Drexel students graduate with a unique set of skills that open up a diverse array of professional opportunities upon graduation.
The Close School recognizes that many undergraduates have already started their own companies. To encourage this entrepreneurial spirit within our student body, the Close School, in collaboration with the Steinbright Career Development Center, offers to all Drexel undergraduate students the opportunity to use their own company as their co-op experience. Students who qualify for this opportunity receive a salary ($15,000), like other co-op students who work for established companies and organizations. Most importantly, students participating in the entrepreneurship co-op receive weekly mentoring from Close School faculty.
During this ten-week capstone course, students work on the actual launching of a start-up and de-risking their business model. Students will talk to customers, partners, and competitors as they engage the iterative process of how a start-up actually works. Students learn how to use the business model canvas to brainstorm each part of a company. Each week will bring a new adventure outside of the classroom as students test each part of their business models, and then share their hard-earned knowledge with the rest of the class.