Written by guest contributor Sarah Soenke, marketing & communications manager of the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship.
On Wednesday, Feb. 19, the University of Colorado Denver Business School and the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship celebrated the grand opening of the new Jake Jabs Event Center, Innovation Suite, and classrooms. Spanning the first three floors of the 1475 Lawrence St. building, the new spaces will help accommodate the growing demand for entrepreneurial and collaborative programming, events, and extracurriculars on the CU Denver campus.
The open house featured speeches, live music, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony inside the new event center. More than 200 students, faculty, staff, and community members attended, including Mr. Jake Jabs himself. The CEO and founder of American Furniture Warehouse gave a $12 million gift to the Business School starting in 2013, half of which was used to fund part of the $11 million infill and renovation project.
Following a musical performance by Jabs and student bluegrass band the Timberline Troubadours, university leadership took the stage to commemorate the project’s completion. CU President Mark Kennedy, Chancellor Dorothy Horrell, and Jake Jabs Center Executive Director Dr. Madhavan Parthasarathy individually addressed the audience to touch on the day’s historic importance.
“It is hard to imagine someone that we’d be more proud to have their name at the center of our Business School than Jake Jabs,” said President Kennedy. “This event center will have a long-lasting, wide-reaching impact on not just this university but the city, the state, and the many, many lives that transit through these halls.”
It took 15 months of construction to bring the 3,500+ square-foot space to life. Split into two sections, the first-floor event center is designed to transform into a variety of layouts, from a 450-person reception to a 60-person classroom. The space features artwork by Taiko Chandler; a donor wall; a catering kitchen; state-of-the-art projectors, screens, microphones, and cameras; and in-house AV and tech support.
Fulfilling a Vision
The Innovation Suite on the second floor now houses the Jake Jabs Center, complete with three conference rooms and team offices. Students can expect additional programming, scholarships, research, and other opportunities in the new suite, including a student accelerator program set to launch this summer. These are all thanks to the other $6 million of Jabs’ gift to the Center.
“It was over 10 years ago that Mr. Jake Jabs and I had a conversation regarding our joint vision for entrepreneurship at CU Denver,” said Parthasarathy at the open house. “Fast forward to today, and I am pleased to say that we are moving closer to fulfilling this vision.”
The Center continues to grow its BSBA in Entrepreneurship program and is working to integrate more entrepreneurship classes into the MBA program as well as launch a brand-new Master’s in Entrepreneurship. It is Parthasarathy’s vision to involve as many disciplines across campus as possible.
“I have seen first-hand what happens when students from engineering, architecture, design, physics, and business collaborate with advisors and mentors from the business community: absolute magic,” he said. “These schools and colleges have accomplished so much individually; imagine what we can do together!”
Both Kennedy and Parthasarathy remarked that Jabs, one of Colorado’s greatest entrepreneurs, sets an extraordinary example for CU Denver students.
“Today is a great day for education in Colorado and a great day for the CU Denver Business School,” Jabs said. “The new expansion of the school makes it more inviting for the different colleges like engineering, arts, music, and more to connect with the Center and learn more business skills. It will make students more entrepreneurial, more innovative, and will give them more opportunities.”