Carusos give $2M to CU Boulder to support entrepreneurial ecosystem

Tuesday April 17, 2018 0 comments Tags: Dan and Cindy Caruso, Boulder, CU Boulder, The Caruso Foundation, Philip DiStefano, Sharon Matusik, Bobby Braun

BOULDER -- Boulder entrepreneur Dan Caruso and his wife Cindy are donating $2 million to support innovation, entrepreneurship and diversity at the University of Colorado Boulder. CU_logoUSE_1 

CU said the Carusos have supported entrepreneurial activity on campus for more than a decade and are boosting their financial support because of the campus’s strategic focus on innovation and entrepreneurship -- especially within the Leeds School of Business and College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Through The Caruso Foundation, the couple is giving $1 million toward the future connection between the business and engineering buildings, and another $1 million to support entrepreneurial activities that foster new business creation, diversity and inclusion.

“Partners like the Carusos are essential to driving our efforts forward and strengthening the bridge between CU Boulder and our world-class community of innovators,” said Chancellor Philip DiStefano.

“Gifts like this demonstrate that Boulder’s own innovators and entrepreneurs see the value in our efforts to drive collaboration and diversity.”

In honor of the gift, a planned building expansion that is slated to connect the Leeds School of Business and the College of Engineering and Applied Science will include a space dubbed the “Caruso Connection” to mark the intersection of the two highly ranked programs.

While the scope of the proposed project is still being finalized, current early concept designs call for a 67,260-square-foot addition and remodel. It is intended to be a place where students, faculty, staff and the community are inspired to innovate and collaborate in meet-up areas, an auditorium and flexible classrooms with a Flatirons view.

The Carusos are also committing $1 million to an array of programs that foster diversity in engineering and business, including the business school’s End the Gap initiative, New Venture Challenge, National Center for Women & Information Technology, Catalyze CU and Startup Colorado.

The gifts will be distributed over five years.

Dan Caruso is founder, chairman and CEO of Boulder-based Zayo Group Holdings, a global provider of communications infrastructure services.

He earned his engineering degree from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana and his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

CU said Caruso was inspired to increase his investment in CU Boulder because of the focus on innovation, entrepreneurship and cross-campus collaboration being led by deans Sharon Matusik of business and Bobby Braun of engineering.

“We are showing our support for everyone at CU and the surrounding business community who embraces the critical and positive role that innovation and entrepreneurship play in our society,” Caruso said. 

Caruso said both deans understand the vital connection between rapidly evolving technology and business success, the importance of experiential learning, and the opportunities that come with being located in Boulder, one of the nation’s top innovation and startup hubs.  

“The university and community can feed off each other,” said Caruso, who also founded the Boulder Think Tank, an informal gathering of Boulder’s most impactful serial entrepreneurs, in 2016.

“A lot of students come here because of their interest in Boulder’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

The Carusos are also passionate about the importance of diversity in general, and women in leadership. The College of Engineering and Applied Science has set a goal to have half of its undergraduates be women within five years; 38 percent of the current freshman class are women. The Leeds School of Business aims to have 50 percent of the students at Leeds be women by 2020, up from 43 percent today.

“Diverse businesses outperform businesses that aren’t diverse when it comes to innovation and longevity,” Caruso said.

“From a societal standpoint, we want to draw people into a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. It’s a way for us to give back as well.”

Matusik said she is excited to unlock the potential that the donor-funded addition connecting business to engineering holds. The expansion, pending CU Board of Regents approval later this year, is targeted for completion in December 2020.