Jayson Margalus Named Next Director of the Connolly Center for Entrepreneurship Anushka Daunt also joins Connolly Center faculty as Assistant Professor of Business Administration.
Jayson Margalus, faculty director of maker innovation at DePaul University’s Idea Realization Labs, has been named the next Johnson Professor of Entrepreneurship and Leadership and director of the Connolly Center for Entrepreneurship at Washington and Lee University.
Rob Straughan, Crawford Family Dean of W&L’s Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, announced Margalus’ appointment, which is effective July 1, 2023. Margalus succeeds Jeffrey Shay, who was named Executive Director for Academic Operations for the Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership at his alma mater, Babson College, in 2020.
“I am delighted to welcome Jay as the next director of the Connolly Center,” said Straughan, “His work spans everything from game design to medical devices, and the buzz created by his interview was evident throughout his time on campus. The breadth of his work drew praise across academic departments, and he expressed interest in building strong interdisciplinary connections, as well as supporting entrepreneurship in the local community. I am confident that under Jay’s leadership, the Connolly Center will continue to evolve in exciting ways.”
In addition to his work at DePaul’s Idea Realization Lab, Margalus is a professional lecturer and program chair of industrial design in DePaul’s Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media. He concurrently runs Spacelab NFP, a non-profit makerspace, and Margalus, LLC, a design studio that develops toys and game platforms. He is a founder and board member of the Chicago Southland Maker Faire, founded and chaired the non-profit IGDA Chicago, and chaired the Mokena Technology Committee, which promoted the development of technology businesses and education in the south Chicago suburbs.
Margalus holds an M.S. with distinction in Human-Computer Interaction from DePaul University, a B.S. in Political Science from North Central College, and various design certifications from Cornell, MIT, and Harvard. His research interests include game development, hardware and the tactile internet. His work has been featured in outlets from the Chicago Tribune to NPR, and he has given keynote talks for organizations ranging from Chicago Public Schools’ Googlepalooza to the American Medical Association‘s ChangeMedEd.
“I’m deeply honored to be named the Johnson Professor of Entrepreneurship and Leadership and director of the Connolly Center for Entrepreneurship,” said Margalus. “I look forward to working with the talented faculty and staff at W&L, as well as the vibrant entrepreneurial community in Virginia, to further develop the innovative spirit that already exists on campus. Most importantly, I look forward to working with W&L’s students to build on the foundation laid by my predecessor and create new opportunities for them to engage with entrepreneurship across academic departments.”
Joining Margalus on the faculty of the Connolly Center this summer is Anushka Daunt, who is currently completing her Ph.D. in entrepreneurship and strategic management at the University of Pittsburgh. Daunt holds an M.S. in industrial engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, a graduate certificate in management science and engineering from Stanford University, and a B.A. in Mathematics from New York University. Her research focuses on access to early-stage funding for entrepreneurs, particularly the impact of gender on access to funding. An experienced instructor in entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship and strategic management, she will join Margalus in expanding electives within the entrepreneurship curriculum.
“Anushka’s focus on entrepreneurial funding bridges existing student interest in entrepreneurship and finance,” noted Straughan. “Of particular note, her work on ‘gritty women’ in pursuit of entrepreneurial funding already has earned one award for best empirical paper. Her broader work exploring gender and entrepreneurial funding could lead to interesting opportunities for both curricular development and collaboration with other W&L faculty.”
Washington and Lee’s entrepreneurship program was first established in 2009 through a gift from Rupert H. Johnson Jr. ’62 to endow the Johnson Professorship in Entrepreneurship and Leadership. The program quickly grew beyond coursework to include a student-run entrepreneurship club, a business plan competition, and an annual entrepreneurship summit. In 2013, the program was named the J. Lawrence Connolly Center for Entrepreneurship, in recognition of the generosity of Larry Connolly ’79, a W&L alumnus and former trustee.
The Connolly Center debuted a new minor in entrepreneurship designed for non-business majors in Fall 2019, offering coursework in business training and theory for entrepreneurially minded students across campus, with advising from faculty in the Williams School. It quickly became one of the university’s most popular minors.
Currently located in dedicated space in downtown Lexington, the Connolly Center will move to the Williams School’s new building on Washington Street when the facility is completed in 2025. “We are looking forward to bringing the Connolly Center’s physical location back to the core of campus — particularly the close proximity to the innovation spaces in the new Washington Street building,” said Straughan. “We anticipate that this move will encourage even more students of all majors to take advantage of the program and the resources it provides.”