CORVALLIS, Ore. – Christopher Klemm, who most recently served as the executive director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington, is the new director of Oregon State University’s Austin Entrepreneurship Program.

Klemm has worked at the University of Washington since 2004, where he helped improve the business school’s U.S. News & World Report entrepreneurship rankings to 15th for the undergraduate program and 29th for the MBA program.

Klemm brings real-world experience to his role with the Austin Entrepreneurship Program. In 1990, he co-founded a successful company, Optimus Consulting, and served as the firm’s president for 14 years.

“We were most impressed with Dr. Klemm’s experience with successfully directing other entrepreneurship programs, his business experience, and his strengths in strategic planning,” said Ilene Kleinsorge, dean of the College of Business and head of the search committee that chose Klemm after a nationwide call for applicants.

“He will assist us in the second phase of developing the Austin Entrepreneurship Program that includes focus and ensuring a distinctive and competitive advantage.”

Originally from Schenectady, N.Y., Klemm received his Ph.D. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also taught classes on strategic and general management.

Klemm said he was attracted to the potential of the young Austin Entrepreneurship Program. Started in 2004, the OSU program is now the largest residential university entrepreneurship program in the country.

“The Austin Entrepreneurship Program is the nearest thing to a very early stage start-up that you’ll find in an academic system,” Klemm said. “The opportunity to move the AEP ahead, to make it one of the leading entrepreneurship centers nationwide among land grant universities, is very appealing to me.”

The Austin Entrepreneurship Program is named after Ken and Joan Austin, owners of A-Dec, a Newberg-based company that is an international leader in dental equipment. It was the Austin’s $4 million gift that helped to renovate OSU’s historic Weatherford Hall, where entrepreneurship students live and develop their businesses.

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Thuy Tran,