New Leader, Endowment Help with Carlsen Center Reboot
November 15, 2020
"I believe the center will be a valuable pillar in fulfilling President Robert S. Nelsen's vision for establishing Sacramento State as an anchor university"
A new interim executive director and a $1 million endowment that will guarantee the continued growth of a centerpiece project mark the rebirth of the University's Carlsen Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
"I believe the center is uniquely positioned to strengthen and grow our region's innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem by fostering collaboration among stakeholders and producing a new wave of student entrepreneurs," said Cameron Law, the interim executive director who was hired in October.
Law, previously the executive director of Social Venture Partners of Sacramento, said the Carlsen Center has a significant role to play.
"I believe the center will be a valuable pillar in fulfilling President Robert S. Nelsen's vision for establishing Sacramento State as an anchor university," Law said, referring to Nelsen's push to weave Sac State more tightly into the Sacramento region's social, economic, business, and leadership fabric.
The $1 million endowment from Western Health Advantage (WHA) will bolster Global Entrepreneurship Week, which provides several days of high-level instruction and spotlights young creators looking to make their mark.
Garry P. Maisel '80 (Business Administration), founder and CEO of Sacramento-based WHA, made the endowment announcement during the November 2019 kickoff to what is now called Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) presented by Western Health Advantage.
The endowment funds speaker fees, prize money, receptions, and networking opportunities for Sac State's annual celebration of innovation and the spirit that drives startups and innovators who dream big.
It is the second major gift to the program – and the second by a prominent Sac State alumnus – after the $6 million given by Dale Carlsen '84 (Business Administration) and his wife, Katy, to launch the center in 2017.
Their goal was to create a hub for transforming the region's economy and a place to inspire students to become creative thinkers. The 10,000-square-foot center is housed in the University Library.
GEW was canceled in 2018, when smoke from the devastating Camp Fire led to an unprecedented nine-day campus closure. The event's return in 2019 came at a pivotal time for businesses and nonprofits.
"The way local and global economies function is changing as businesses and social ventures shift to adjust to an innovation economy, rather than the kind of atmosphere where you start at one place and stay for your entire career," said Christine M. Miller, who had served as the center's administrator-in-charge since the departure of founding director Katherine Cota in May 2019.
"Now you make your career often moving around and doing different things," Miller said. "The Carlsen Center is poised to acknowledge that difference in the business and social landscape, and to help people tap into it."
Miller, a professor of Communications Studies since 1987 and the University's interim vice provost for Strategic Services, and Jyoti Das, board chair of the nonprofit Cognitive Exchange, led the center for six months.
As the entrepreneur-in-residence, Das presented the boot camps and Venture School, and built a network of mentors from the local business community.