Contact: Brian Burton, dean of the Western Washington University College of Business and Economics, at (360) 650-3389.
BELLINGHAM — A $500,000 gift from Western Washington University alumnus and retired Microsoft vice president David W. Cole and his wife Denise – who also attended Western – will enable WWU to hire its first professor of Entrepreneurship.
The new position, which will be called the David Cole Professor of Entrepreneurship and be housed within Western’s College of Business and Economics (CBE), will provide leadership for and teach courses in a new, University-wide, Entrepreneurship minor. The goal of this program is to increase the number of graduates — regardless of major — who will launch and run their own successful organizations, create jobs and increase the overall economic vitality of the state of Washington.
“The vision here is to provide entrepreneurial students with some of the knowledge, tools, and connections needed to turn their ideas into a business, creating jobs and corresponding social and economic benefit," said David Cole.
CBE Dean Brian Burton said the gift will allow for the formation of a baseline set of courses in entrepreneurship along with courses that help people whose interests are more specialized in areas such as social entrepreneurship, technology and lean start-ups, and other areas of possible interest.
“The nature of this program will reflect Western. We are entrepreneurial in many ways, and our interests span traditional entrepreneurship, technology, social innovation, environmental and energy aspects, and more,” Burton said. “We are hoping for and expecting students from throughout the University to be attracted to the program and benefit from it. We will add the understanding of start-ups to Western students’ passion and strong liberal arts base to help educate entrepreneurs who will change society in many ways.”
Burton said that because entrepreneurs in every area contribute greatly to the state’s economic health, their development is of huge importance to Washington and the region.
“We appreciate that the Coles’ vision is so similar to our own; this will help us contribute to the state’s economic well-being through our education of some of the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders,” he said.
David Cole graduated cum laude from Western in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics and in 1986 with a master’s degree in Mathematics (also cum laude). He is a retired senior vice president who worked with Microsoft for more than 20 years. He played key roles in the development of Windows, Internet Explorer and MSN.com while at the software company, and served for three years as a trustee at Western.
For more information on the Cole gift or the new David Cole Professor of Entrepreneurship, contact CBE Dean Brian Burton at (360) 650-3389.