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Neil '64 & Karen Bonke

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Exposing Students to Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Adapted from the Spring 2009 E2E Newsletter

Entrepreneurship + innovation = success in today’s global marketplace. That equation is the driving force behind Neil ’64 and Karen Bonke’s decision to create an endowed professorship at Clarkson.

As the retired chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of Electroglas Inc., a semiconductor test equipment manufacturer, Neil Bonke ’64 knows how to successfully cultivate innovation through the integration of business and engineering. He also recognizes the importance of instilling in tomorrow’s business leaders this appreciation for the role an entrepreneurial mindset and commitment to innovation play in maintaining a competitive edge in today’s ever-changing marketplace.

Neil and his wife, Karen, have pledged an outright gift over five years to create the Neil ’64 and Karen Bonke Endowed Professorship for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. This endowed professorship will support a faculty member who encourages an entrepreneurial mindset in Clarkson students focused within the Engineering and Management program. “Students can have in-depth learning in a given field, but lack an understanding of how the world operates,” says Neil. “Clarkson’s ‘Get out of the Classroom’ approach to education exposes students to real projects, competitions, start-up businesses and community projects — all of which expose students to entrepreneurial thinking and innovation.”

While the Professorship will directly support a faculty member with proven academic expertise in entrepreneurship, it will also support the broader intellectual life of the University by creating synergies among faculty conducting research, commercializing technology and educating students in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Neil traces his own interest in the intersection of business and technology back to his undergraduate years at Clarkson as a student in the Industrial Distribution (ID) program. An interdisciplinary major, the ID program built upon the University’s strengths in engineering and management, and was the first of its kind at an accredited college. More than 50 years later, the highly successful program, now known as E&M, remains a model for the interdisciplinary programs that continue to develop at Clarkson.

“Today, the world has shrunk, decision making must be fast and strategic, product life cycles are very short, low cost producers win markets and innovation is more important than ever. Cross-functional teams drive successful companies today and individuals must be diverse in their thinking and knowledge base.”