NEW YORK, N.Y. [Brown University] — To share ideas on the transformative impact that innovators and their enterprises have on confronting the world’s most pressing challenges — and to celebrate the $25 million gift to create the Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship at Brown University — a group of pre-eminent entrepreneurs from the Brown community and beyond convened in New York on Sept. 13.
The event featured Jonathan M. Nelson, a 1977 undergraduate alumnus of Brown whose gift is establishing the University’s center, which is expected to open later this semester. Nelson spoke about his Brown undergraduate experience, its impact on his career as founder and CEO of Providence Equity Partners and why preparing tomorrow’s innovators is so vital.
“Entrepreneurship is central to the story of America,” Nelson said. “It’s embedded in our culture — a culture that fosters innovation. It is the path to improving the lot of citizens in the world. We need entrepreneurs to help us move forward.”
Nelson noted that with its distinctive Open Curriculum and a student population of “independent thinkers and risk takers,” Brown is a natural home for an interdisciplinary center for entrepreneurship education and research.
In introducing Nelson, Brown President Christina Paxson said the center will position the University on the leading edge of entrepreneurship education and practice.
“The Center will build on what is distinctive about Brown,” Paxson said, “our ability to bring together people, disciplines and perspectives to advance knowledge and serve the greater good. … The reality is that Brown has always been entrepreneurial — in its culture, and in the iconic way it educates students to explore across disciplines, think differently and be consequential in the world.”
The Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship will be a uniquely Brown enterprise, Paxson added — “decisively integrative, practical and combining the rigor of business, the invention of science and technology and the expansive reflection of the humanities. And it will be keyed to tap the innate imagination and desire to make a difference of Brown students — both essential for bringing new ideas to life.”
The event provided an opportunity to recognize the appointment of Danny Warshay, the inaugural executive director of the center. Warshay is a Brown alumnus, a veteran entrepreneur and an educator who has taught at Brown and at Tel Aviv University, and who has led intensive entrepreneurial workshops for a variety of international organizations.