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JFK University Launches Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership

September 30, 2010

Dr. Raul Deju to Lead Institute

  • Institute intended to enhance potential for Bay Area entrepreneurs to succeed and create new jobs
  • Is developing collaborative arrangements with government and business
  • Will be spearheading certificate and degree programs at JFK University designed for entrepreneurs

PLEASANT HILL, Calif. – John F. Kennedy University, an affiliate of the National University System, has established the Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership (IEL) at its Pleasant Hill campus, President Steve Stargardter announced today.

Working intimately across industries and sectors, IEL is intended to lead in the creation of a new collaborative model of entrepreneurship education and training in the Bay Area. IEL also aims to work with government and business entities to enhance the ability of entrepreneurs in our region to succeed in their businesses and create new jobs.

Entrepreneurship has become the driving force for job creation in America especially in recent years. According to the May 2010 Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, a leading indicator of new-business creation in the United States, business startups reached their highest level in 14 years in 2009, with 558,000 new businesses created each month. The report further found that California exceeded the national average for new businesses created per 100,000 adults.

This growth in entrepreneurship has created a rising demand for training and resources among current and prospective entrepreneurs, many of whom are students preparing to enter the workforce. The IEL is designed to meet this need in Contra Costa County and beyond, bringing together the education resources of the University combined with those in the private and public sectors.

IEL will drive and support a range of initiatives and activities across JFK University, including degree program specializations, professional certificate programs, and cross-sector partnerships focused on regional job creation, local entrepreneurial ventures, and a strong support for both business-centered and social entrepreneurship.

IEL also will establish interdisciplinary entrepreneurship and leadership linkages between small businesses in the area, job-creation government and community entities, business incubators and investors in start-up businesses.

Dr. Raul A. Deju will serve as the Director of IEL. Dr. Deju, a former adjunct faculty member at JFK University and a seasoned executive who has served as Chairman, CEO or COO of major international public companies, brings his entrepreneurship experience to IEL, which includes creating a number of companies traded in major stock exchanges with net values in billions of dollars. He has served on advisory committees for the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the U.S. EPA Administrator and is the author of more than 200 peer-reviewed articles and four books. Dr. Deju was named one of the 25 Leading Hispanics in the San Francisco-Silicon Valley Area in 2005 by the San Francisco Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and has been long recognized for his philanthropy and social entrepreneurship in the Latino community. 

“The Institute will provide JFK University with an exciting opportunity to help build and sustain new regional economic development partnerships that ultimately will elevate the accessibility and quality of entrepreneurship education here in Contra Costa County and throughout the Bay Area,” stated Joshua Lachs, Dean of Continuing and Extended Education at JFK University, which will house the Institute.

“We are particularly pleased to have Dr. Deju as the IEL Director for his expertise and the opportunity for greater local connectivity and impact that he will bring to the University.”

For more information about the Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership, click here.

About John F. Kennedy University
Founded in 1964, John F. Kennedy University, an affiliate of the National University System, was among the first institutions of higher education in California committed to lifelong learning for adults. Today, the University’s three Colleges and Continuing Education division provide innovative higher education opportunities to more than 2,000 professionals who, despite a full range of life responsibilities, are determined to advance their education and improve their future. The Continuing Education division provides professional development education to more than 2,500 individuals per year. A pioneer of education that integrates theory and practice, John F. Kennedy University and its students touch the lives of more than 30,000 people in Bay Area communities every year through their support of outreach centers and public programs. For more information, visit

About the National University System
The National University System was established to meet the emerging challenges and demands of education in the 21st century. The System is uniquely aligned to connect a diverse population of students to a network of innovative educational programs that are relevant to their lives, careers, and the marketplace and are delivered in a format that respects competing life priorities. Dr. Jerry C. Lee has served as the System’s Chancellor since it was founded in 2001. In addition to John F. Kennedy University, the affiliates of the National University System are National University; National University International; the Division of Pre-College Programs consisting of National University Virtual High School and National University Academy; Spectrum Pacific Learning; and WestMed College. Entities related to the System include the National University System Institute for Policy Research, National University Golf Academy, and the Center for Integrative Health. For more information, visit: