As an undergraduate student at Rutgers School of Engineering (1989-1994), it was clear to Jeffrey Robinson that universities had both the responsibility and capacity to shape its surrounding community. As an officer of MEET, the Rutgers Chapter of National Society of Black Engineers, Robinson engaged students at the Paul Robeson School of New Brunswick in mentoring and youth activities. In the eyes of these students, he saw the possibility of uniting local community residents and university resources to address social and educational challenges. If Rutgers could bring to bear a small portion of its resources and capacity, it could drastically change the lives of students at Paul Robeson School. This example of community engagement, along with his passion for business, sparked Robinson’s thirst to study and work in the area of urban entrepreneurship and economic development.
After completing his doctoral studies, Robinson began teaching entrepreneurship at the NYU Stern School of Business. Meanwhile on the other side of the Hudson, dt ogilve, PhD, an Associate Professor at Rutgers Business School, was looking to institutionalize her study of economic development in the inner-city of a research center. To assist her in these efforts, she recruited Robinson to return to Rutgers and help build this center. Through collaborative efforts between Rutgers Newark Chancellor, Steve Diner and Rutgers Business School Dean, Michael Cooper, dt ogilve and Robinson were able to create the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development at Rutgers Business School (CUEED). CUEED is the first center in the nation to combine venture capital and city resources with University research to improve urban communities. This center would combine research, education, and economic development to address topics of entrepreneurship in urban areas. To enhance the offering available through the center, New Jersey-based real estate executive, Paul V. Profeta, has partnered with CUEED and contributed $1 million to establish the Profeta Urban Investment Foundation at the business school, a not-for-profit equity fund that supports CUEED.
For Robinson, the chance to study and now teach at Rutgers is a dream come true. He says, “Since becoming a professor, I had always hoped of an opportunity to return to Rutgers and build something great. Now through CUEED, I have that opportunity and I am committed to using my knowledge and network to improve urban centers through partnerships with Universities.”