Professor Jeffrey A. Robinson named Prudential Chair in Business
The Rutgers Board of Governors appointed Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick (RBS) professor Jeffrey A. Robinson as the Prudential Chair in Business, a chair established through a gift from Prudential Financial Inc. The chair helps to advance a multidisciplinary approach to business education with a focus on science and technology, ethics, and social justice.
Robinson, who will begin his term as chair on Jan. 1, 2022, is the former founding assistant director and the current academic director of The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CUEED). Through his work at CUEED, the Center has made significant economic impact in the Newark area through the support of more than 500 entrepreneurs in the region.
Robinson’s appointment to the Prudential Chair follows the sudden death of Rutgers Business School marketing professor Jerome Williams in January. Williams, who held the chair since 2010, was a mentor to Robinson.
“I am honored to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Jerome Williams. His pioneering work at the intersection of business and society has been inspirational to me and numerous other scholars,” Robinson said. “In many ways, my academic work and scholarship shares themes that Jerome made prominent throughout his career by connecting social justice and community concerns with value creation in the economy and society.”
At Rutgers, Robinson has made major contributions in social entrepreneurship, workplace diversity, and urban entrepreneurship and innovation through scholarly work and leadership in multiple national-level research projects. He has raised more than $3.5 million for Rutgers-based projects and is the primary investigator or co-primary investigator for more than $18 million in funding from the federal government.
"Through his publicly engaged scholarship that is supported by prestigious grant-funding agencies, Jeff is transforming both academia and practice by advancing the role of social entrepreneurship as a vital tool for economic development,” said Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor, who nominated Robinson for the chair. “He is bolstering the academic experience of our students by developing, and then teaching in, transformational academic programs in entrepreneurship, as well as mentoring our business students, particularly students of color, who are learning directly from him how to achieve success in academics and the corporate world."
"In my view, there is no one more deserving of this chair," she said.
Rutgers Business School Dean Lei Lei and a committee of five RBS faculty nominated Robinson. In her letter to Chancellor Cantor, Dean Lei wrote: “My nomination is based on Dr. Robinson’s status in scholarly achievements, academic leadership, social impact and as a champion of diversity in the business school professoriate.”
"As a large public business school headquartered at Rutgers University-Newark, the most diverse campus in the nation, Rutgers Business School carries the mission to make a meaningful impact on our community," Lei said. "Dr. Robinson’s work exemplifies the work that leads to this impact."
For the past five years, Robinson has partnered with the federal government to help develop programs and initiatives that diversify technology entrepreneurship and commercialization with the intent of making the tech sector more inclusive. His work is funded by the National Science Foundation.
In August, Robinson’s leadership in inclusive innovation landed him the role of research lead in the newly created National Science Foundation I-Corps Hub: Northeast Region, a research partnership involving Rutgers, Princeton and the University of Delaware.
“Inclusive innovation is the idea that the visionaries, entrepreneurs and gatekeepers of technology innovation should be as diverse as our nation,” Robinson said in an announcement about the innovation hub. “This diversity leads to brilliant ideas, new companies, and international leadership in innovation.”
Robinson moved into academia through the Ph.D. Project. It was through the involvement of the Ph.D. Project that Professor Williams became a mentor. As a professor, Robinson has helped to attract and guide other professionals of color through doctoral programs to help increase the diversity of business school faculty across the country. He has supported, mentored, or served as dissertation advisor for more than 15 underrepresented minority doctoral students in management and entrepreneurship.
Robinson is also an award-winning teacher who has helped to build new academic programs in entrepreneurship at RBS. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate students. Nearly 1,000 students per year at Rutgers take courses in entrepreneurship at both levels of study.
Robinson’s research describes how business practices and entrepreneurship can be used to impact societal issues. He is particularly concerned about community and economic development issues for urban metropolitan areas in the United States and abroad. He is the author of books and articles on such topics as social entrepreneurship, urban entrepreneurship and innovation, Black corporate and entrepreneurial excellence and workplace diversity.
He has coauthored a new book, Black Faces in High Places: 10 Strategic Actions for Black Professionals to Reach the Top and Stay There, with Rutgers University alumnus and Rhodes Scholar Randal Pinkett.
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