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University of Rochester names Center for Entrepreneurship to recognize $5 million in commitments

October 7, 2015
husband and wife

Carolyn and Mark Ain

Mark S. Ain and his wife, Carolyn, have made a multimillion-dollar commitment in support of entrepreneurship education at the University of Rochester, bringing their total support to The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester to $5 million. In recognition of the Ains’ collective philanthropy, the Center for Entrepreneurship will be named the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship.

“We are deeply grateful to Mark and Carolyn for their continued generous support of entrepreneurship education at the University of Rochester,” said President and CEO Joel Seligman. “This generous gift will allow us to continue our momentum in building a cutting-edge entrepreneurial program.”

Mark Ain is the former chairman and CEO of Kronos Incorporated, the Chelmsford, Massachusetts-based workforce management company he founded in 1977. He earned his MBA from the Simon Business School in 1967.

“Mark Ain has been a steadfast supporter of entrepreneurship throughout the University,” said Duncan Moore, vice provost for entrepreneurship and Rudolf and Hilda Kingslake Professor in Optical Engineering. “It is fitting that the Ain name will forever be associated with educating the entrepreneurs of the future.”

Since 2007, aspiring undergraduate and graduate student entrepreneurs at the University of Rochester have had the opportunity to present their business models to a panel of judges during the Mark Ain Business Model Competition. Many of the winning business models have gone on to become successful entrepreneurial ventures. The Ains have also given internship and scholarship support, as well as funding for the high-profile Mark Ain Workshop Series hosted by the Center for Entrepreneurship. Additionally, Mark has personally provided career counseling and guidance to students, and has successfully placed Simon M.B.A. graduates within his business network.

The University of Rochester’s Student Incubator at High Tech Rochester is another area where the Ains are helping students contribute to the region’s economic development. For the past five years, their support of the incubator, which advances student-run enterprises of all kinds, emphasizing a broad definition of entrepreneurship, has enabled many students to go on to create successful startups. Some of these ventures include NullSpace VR, the first low-cost wearable virtual reality system; LighTopTech Corp., a women-owned optical technology company for noninvasive imaging in medical and industrial fields; and Health Care Originals, which is currently focused on providing an Asthma Management System capable of identifying precursor symptoms of an asthmatic episode.

“Mark Ain is a tremendously successful entrepreneur and his success is a testament to the value of a Simon education,” said Andrew Ainslie, dean of the Simon Business School. “Thanks to Mark and Carolyn’s generosity, we will continue to provide education and support for our students interested in starting their own businesses or working for entrepreneurial companies.”

Ain says he originally got involved with entrepreneurship at the University to help stimulate the regional economy by encouraging students to think about starting their own ventures, and he wanted to give back. “It has been thrilling to promote the growth of entrepreneurship at the University and the Simon Business School over the past 10 years,” Ain said. “Rochester has become a prime innovator and a place where people can easily start and grow companies. I’m proud to be a part of it.”

A longtime supporter of entrepreneurship at the University and Simon, Ain is a member of the University’s Board of Trustees, The Meliora Challenge Campaign Cabinet, the Simon National Council and Executive Advisory Committee, and the Boston Regional Cabinet. Mark and Carolyn are charter members of the George Eastman Circle, the University’s leadership annual giving society.

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