Connecting learning with experience

Skandalaris gift boosts entrepreneurship studies with new internship program

Washington University has received a commitment of $1 million from Robert and Julie Skandalaris to create and support the Skandalaris Center Internship Program. This is the fourth major gift from the Skandalarises for the support of the University’s growing entrepreneurial programs.

The gift will sustain the internship program for the next 10 years and will enable 20 interns per year to participate in an intensive summer experience. The students will receive both hands-on experience and academic information about developing and sustaining new enterprises.

“Through their initial support, the Skandalarises provided a solid foothold for entrepreneurship at Washington University,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “Over the last eight years, their ongoing support has fueled the growth of a comprehensive program that promotes entrepreneurship across all schools within the University and has made us a leader in entrepreneurial studies.

“I am very grateful for Bob and Julie Skandalaris’ faith in our institution and for their remarkable commitment to developing and enhancing entrepreneurial studies at Washington University,” he said.

Ken Harrington, managing director of the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, will oversee the internship program. During the course of the summer, the interns will spend time working for new and emerging businesses or social-service organizations in the St. Louis region. The interns also will attend weekly sessions where faculty and guest speakers discuss the process of starting and growing a company.

“The experience of spending a summer focused on entrepreneurship will serve as a valuable means for students to learn how to establish their entrepreneurial ventures and projects,” Harrington said.

Students will be selected for the program through an application process coordinated by the Skandalaris Center.

Bob Skandalaris is a successful entrepreneur with investment interests in both the public and private sectors. He is chairman of Noble International, a technology-based firm that supplies laser-welded blanks and structural tube parts to the automotive industry. He also founded corporate investor Quantum Ventures of Michigan LLC, a privately-held company specializing in the acquisition and development of middle-market firms, and he has completed successful public offerings for several companies. In addition, he has co-authored, with Harrington, “Rebuilding the American Dream,” a book detailing the need for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Bob and Julie Skandalaris are philanthropists who actively support their beneficiaries. In addition to establishing the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, they have co-chaired the Parents Council and the Parents Fund. Furthermore, they are members of the Detroit Regional Cabinet. In 2002, they received the University’s distinguished Robert S. Brookings Award.

Bob Skandalaris serves as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees and the Olin School’s National Council.

Julie Skandalaris supports a number of organizations such as the Red Cross and the Detroit Country Day School. They also are active in their children’s alma maters.

Their daughter Kristin earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in Arts & Sciences in 2002 and a law degree in 2005. Julie Skandalaris serves on the Visitors Board for Duke University, from which son, Lee, graduated in 2004. Youngest son Andrew will enter Michigan State University this fall.

Eight years ago, the Skandalarises gave the Olin Business School $1 million to name the Hatchery Seed Capital Fund to enhance Olin’s ability to provide funding for Olin students attempting to start their own businesses after graduation.

A year later, an additional $2 million gift established the Skandalaris Entrepreneurship Program. This gift enabled the Olin School to add a complete set of traditional courses in tandem with simulated and real-world learning programs such as the Hatchery. The combination of offerings established Olin as a leader in entrepreneurial education.

In 2003, the business school offerings in entrepreneurship were expanded University-wide with a $3 million grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Kauffman Campuses Initiative for Entrepreneurship Education is a direct outgrowth of initiatives made possible at the Olin School by the Skandalaris gifts.

In 2004, yet another gift from the Skandalarises provided $2 million for the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and an additional $325,000 for the Center for Research Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which is dedicated to generating research.