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New leadership structure for Baker Institute

Lehigh University’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation has a new leadership structure, beginning this month, that allows the growing institute to best lead in entrepreneurship curriculum and programming.

Baker Institute directors Lisa Getzler-Linn and Todd Watkins now serve as co-executive directors of the institute, which was launched in 2010 through a generous donation from the Dexter F. and Dorothy H. Baker Foundation. Both have served the institute since its founding: Watkins as executive director and Getzler-Linn as administrative director and later senior director of programs and operations.

Watkins also is the Arthur F. Searing Professor of Economics at Lehigh University. Getzler-Linn joined the university in 2001 as associate director of Lehigh’s nationally recognized Integrated Product Development (IPD) program, expanding the scope of her leadership to include directing Lehigh’s student entrepreneur competition and entrepreneur alumni network, as well as administration of the Baker Institute.

With the new roles, Getzler-Linn and Watkins equally co-lead the institute.

“This new management structure leverages the background, talent and acumen of two accomplished leaders whose signature is seen everywhere both on and off campus,” said Dale F. Falcinelli, chairman of the Baker Institute Advisory Council, who will work alongside the Baker executive team to provide strategic counsel and lead funding initiatives. “We benefit from their passion and visibility with Lehigh alumni and other external publics in raising needed capital and building new partnerships.”

Now entering the end of its fifth year of operation, Lehigh’s Baker Institute has established itself as a hub for supporting entrepreneurship education, inspiring creativity and facilitating innovation. As an interdisciplinary initiative of the Lehigh University Office of the Provost, the institute’s efforts include supporting faculty in building courses across the university’s three undergraduate colleges. In September, the Baker Foundation bestowed its most generous commitment, a $5 million gift for long-term support of the Baker Institute.

The gift allows continued growth and evolution for the Baker Institute, which has already made a distinctive impact:

• Since 2010, student enrollment in entrepreneurial courses has quadrupled, to more than 500 enrollments per year.

• About 25 percent of Lehigh undergraduate students now take innovation and entrepreneurship-related courses.

• The number of ventures launched by students and faculty has more than doubled, to about 60 per year.

• There has been a 17-fold increase in extracurricular program participation and five-fold increase in entrepreneurs active in the Lehigh Entrepreneurs Network.

“My father’s dream was to inoculate all Lehigh students with an entrepreneurial mindset and determination to think creatively and challenge the status quo,” said Carol Baker, Baker Foundation trustee, daughter of Dexter and Dorothy Baker and member of the Baker Institute Advisory Council. “The Baker Institute is making impressive progress toward that goal. I’m confident this restructuring will enable the institute to reach more students, alumni, community members and others and deliver even richer resources and opportunities.”

Since its founding, the institute has supported expansion of Lehigh’s undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurship curriculum, including enrollment in VENTURESeries MBA courses in the College of Business and Economics, launch of a national award-winning master’s in technical entrepreneurship in the Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, and the jointly offered undergraduate entrepreneurship minor. It introduced extracurricular offerings ranging from immersive entrepreneurial experiences in California’s Silicon Valley and startup hubs in New York City and Boston – to campus-wide iDeX idea exchanges and LaunchBayC summer accelerator for early-stage startups founded by Lehigh students. The institute’s EUREKA! Ventures Competition Series last year awarded more than $75,000 in prizes to student entrepreneurs to help them launch or expand their ventures.

This year Lehigh University ranked for the fourth time in the Princeton Review’s Top 25 Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Colleges (No. 17) since 2010 on the strength of the Baker Institute’s efforts. Lehigh was also recently named to Forbes’ Top 50 Startup Schools list and to the Top 30 Most Entrepreneurial Schools list by entrepreneur networking website Last year, Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranked Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics No. 12 for Entrepreneurship specialty programs.

“The Baker Institute has widened its footprint beyond anyone’s imagination in the five short years since its inception,” Falcinelli ’70 ’72G said. “With more growth and expansion, new needs and priorities present themselves – as do exciting new opportunities. Our incredibly strong entrepreneurial campus and Lehigh alumni community, when coupled with the ongoing support and encouragement of the Baker Foundation, translate into an even brighter, more prosperous future.”

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Lisa Getzler-Linn

Lisa Getzler-Linn

Todd Watkins

Todd Watkins