Doll family gives $2M to endow entrepreneurship director position


Venture capitalist and University of Michigan alumnus Dixon Doll and his wife, Carol, have given $2 million to endow the position of executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of Engineering.

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The gift names the position the Dixon and Carol Doll Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship.

Dixon Doll received his master of science in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. from U-M in 1965 and 1969, respectively. Carol Doll, a U-M alumna, received her bachelor’s degree in speech and a teaching certification in 1965.

“Long ago, I realized that without my Michigan degrees, I never would have had the opportunity to be deeply involved in the technology of data communication, networking and the early days of the internet,” Dixon Doll said.

“With this gift, we’d like to make aspiring young people, plus current students and faculty, aware of the importance of entrepreneurship and venture capital in the global technology ecosystem.”

From left, Michael Wellman, associate dean of the College of Engineering; Tom Frank, the first Dixon and Carol Doll Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship; and Carol and Dixon Doll, who are giving $2 million to endow the executive director’s position. (Photo by Austin Thomason, Michigan Photo)

A ceremony took place at the Duderstadt Gallery on Thursday, with remarks by Dixon Doll; Michael Wellman, associate dean for academic affairs at CoE; Thomas Frank, executive director of CFE; and Ilan Siegel, president of MPowered Entrepreneurship.

“Successful innovation requires entrepreneurial leadership. With this generous gift, the Dolls have provided current and future leaders of the Center for Entrepreneurship with the tools for success. We are deeply grateful,” said Wellman, who also is the Lynn A. Conway Collegiate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering.

Dixon Doll is a renowned venture capitalist and recognized by many as among the “Fathers of the Silicon Valley.” He founded the Accel Partners telecom fund in the mid-1980s, followed by Doll Capital Management, which successfully backed numerous transformative U.S. and Chinese companies in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

A four-time member of the Forbes Midas List, Doll received the 2013 Special Achievement Award in VC from the International Business Forum.

Doll’s career has spanned six continents and over 35 years. It includes extensive non-profit advisory board service and philanthropic activities, plus board services for many private and public companies including DirecTV.

In addition to his U-M degrees, he earned his bachelor of science in engineering degree (cum laude) from Kansas State. Additionally, Doll published “Data Communication,” which was used as a course text at numerous universities and colleges globally in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

CFE is a resource center that provides education, programming, resources, mentorship and training in entrepreneurship to students, faculty and researchers.

During the 2015-16 year, the CFE saw double-digit percentage increases in:

• Student enrollment (26 percent to 1,551).

• Students in co-curricular programs (25 percent to 600).

• Faculty and researchers trained (13 percent to 967).

• Alumni, mentors and experts engaged (53 percent to 594).

• Venture follow-on funding (39 percent to $12.6 million).


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