An accomplished entrepreneur, academic, investor and CEO with a track record of success at top entrepreneurship universities will become the first associate dean of entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas.
Brian Abraham, 48, starts his new position in the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship on October 1. He spent the last 12 years building programs, lecturing and teaching in three highly rated entrepreneurship and business programs. Simultaneously, as an entrepreneur, he built and led management teams for more than two dozen start-up firms, an IPO, several acquisitions, a large not-for-profit research institute focused on new venture creation, and served as president and CEO of several firms.
Abraham believes “Entrepreneurship can be taught, passion can be fostered, and with confidence and perseverance, entrepreneurs can fuel the U.S. economy.” He plans to implement a comprehensive venture creation education, research and practice platform on which to achieve success with instruction, facilitation and leadership.
Abraham holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from Tufts University and an M.B.A. from Babson College. He comes to St. Thomas most recently from Michigan State University, where he spent the last two years as the executive director of Spartan Innovations, creating new ventures from the university’s intellectual property. Before that, he taught for several years at Babson, perennially the top-ranked American program for entrepreneurship, and The Ohio State University.
An extensive search to fill the associate dean position began in January. Abraham, like new Opus College of Business dean Stefanie Lenway, comes to St. Thomas after living in Minnesota and commuting to Michigan State. When the selection committee brought Abraham’s name to Lenway, approval was easy.
“I may be a little biased after seeing first-hand the success he had in creating and running Spartan Innovations, but that’s what makes him a great fit for this position,” said Lenway. “He’s another outstanding asset to guide our students, who, year after year, launch successful businesses out of the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship.”
“Brian’s demonstrated ability to work across a campus of successful innovators to launch new ventures will add value to not only the university, but the entire Twin Cities entrepreneurship ecosystem,” said Richard M. Schulze, founder and chairman emeritus of Best Buy Co. Inc. and a benefactor who chairs the Opus College of Business Strategic Board of Governors and sits on the university’s Board of Trustees.
“His ability to start his own ventures and run businesses, combined with his background as an investor and academic, brings a unique skill-set that will benefit all St. Thomas students who seek to make purposeful change in the world. I am excited to see Brian take on this new role as an entrepreneurial leader in Minnesota,” said Schulze.
Abraham began his teaching career at Babson in 2003. He created and taught Technology Entrepreneurship, then replicated the course while teaching at The Ohio State University, helping it to a then top-10 national ranking. Gaining the support of state agencies, business partners and community members in Massachusetts, Ohio and Michigan, he built statewide entrepreneurship programs that addressed both high-tech and lifestyle businesses.
“I’m honored to be part of the St. Thomas community, with its strong pedigree, foundation and emphasis on entrepreneurship, from the top down,” added Abraham. “I am also pleased and proud to be associated with an entrepreneur of Dick Schulze’s caliber and to contribute to the school that bears his name. Through quality instruction, forward thinking, and the university’s demonstrated ability to launch, capitalize and harvest new ventures, we can continue to build Minnesota’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”