Published: Jan. 30, 2014

MSU Foundation hires new executive director

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709 Kristen.Parker@cabs.msu.edu, Traci Cannon MSU Foundation office: (517) 353-9268 cannont@msu.edu

The Michigan State University Foundation has named David Washburn, president and CEO of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, as its new executive director.

He replaces George Benson, who retired after 22 years of service. Washburn will start his new position Feb. 3.

At UTRF, Washburn was involved in all aspects of technology commercialization, corporate engagement and economic development across the UT system. He oversaw the technology transfer group, led a variety of strategic partnerships and oversaw a number of UTRF subsidiary organizations.

In addition, Washburn organized and laid the foundation for Volunteer Ventures, a small seed-stage investment fund, developed the Tennessee Venture Challenge business plan competition and served as treasurer of Cherokee Farm Development Corporation, a non-profit subsidiary of UTRF developing the 200-acre Cherokee Farm Innovation Campus.

“Dave will bring a wealth of experience and energy to the MSU Foundation mission of supporting the MSU research enterprise,” said Randy Cowen, chairperson of the MSU Foundation Board of Directors. “He will help us drive additional value from the MSU intellectual property and entrepreneurial efforts, which will build the financial strength of our foundation and benefit the entire MSU community.”

Before joining the University of Tennessee, Washburn was assistant director at the Office of Technology Management at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 2001 to 2011, where he led the software commercialization practice. In addition, he helped form 25 startup companies that raised more than $75 million in venture capital.

Washburn currently serves on the boards of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation and ASSET.TN in Tullahoma, CFCD and is a board observer for Tennera Inc. He also sits on the board of directors of Life Science Tennessee and serves on the entrepreneur committee of Launch Tennessee.

“Michigan State is a powerful research institution and its leadership has made a very strong commitment to continuing to invest in creating a robust economic development engine,” Washburn said. “I am honored to have this opportunity to contribute to these important efforts.”

Receiving his bachelor’s degree and his master’s of business administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Washburn also holds the CLP designation from the Licensing Executives Society. He began his career doing data analytics with Information Resources Inc. in Chicago.

“Our search committee met with a broad range of exceptionally qualified candidates,” said Steve Hsu, vice president for research and graduate studies at MSU. “David Washburn’s experience at the University of Illinois and at the University of Tennessee Research Foundation makes him a great fit for what we are trying to accomplish here. He is a thoughtful but decisive leader, and I’m sure he’ll contribute greatly to the success of the MSU Foundation.”

Washburn will be joined in East Lansing by his wife Angie along with their children Henry, 13, and Eleanor, 11.

Established in 1973 as an independent non-profit corporation, the MSU Foundation supports research, teaching and commercialization of technologies. The foundation has a longstanding role as fiduciary and trustee for charitable annuities, trusts and gifts of property on behalf of the university.

David Washburn, president and CEO of the MSU Foundation. Courtesy photo

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