May 26, 2015—University of Denver Chancellor Rebecca Chopp announced today that JB Holston will join the University of Denver as dean of the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science effective July 1, bringing with him a wealth of private and public sector experience that will propel the School at an exciting chapter in its history.
Holston brings more than 25 years as a senior executive at Fortune 500 companies, as a venture capital-backed CEO, and as a startup entrepreneur of six highly successful enterprises. He was most recently founding executive director of the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network, an organization launched in 2014 at the behest of Senator Michael Bennet and with the support of Governor John Hickenlooper and the Blackstone Group to gather Colorado’s best serial entrepreneurs around the shared mission of identifying, promoting, connecting and assisting large-scale, fast-growing firms in critical advanced industries in Colorado. Since launching the program in June 2014, the Network has added more than 220 advisors and adopted 47 of Colorado’s highest potential firms.
Chancellor Rebecca Chopp added, “JB has a global reputation with an intentional focus in Denver and Colorado. He will put DU, and through it, the entire Front Range region at the cutting edge of innovation, knowledge and teaching. His leadership, experience and connections will help to make the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science an intellectual and economic driver for our growing region.”
Holston’s appointment is part of a major investment to expand research and innovation in engineering and technology at the University and to connect DU to the leading technology companies and cutting edge entrepreneurs. As a part of this last year, thanks to a foundational gift from former Chancellor Dan Ritchie, the University broke ground on a 110,000-square-foot facility to vastly expand research and instructional spaces, flexible classrooms and interdisciplinary centers and institutes that will bear Ritchie’s father’s name.
“JB’s broad and deep expertise both in the public and private sector, as well as his entrepreneurial connections and insights, reflect a strategic vision for the Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science,” said Gregg Kvistad, provost and executive vice chancellor of the University of Denver. “The University is making significant investments in the School, and JB will lead a transformation toward increased collaboration with industry and help us to educate and train technology entrepreneurs. With JB at the helm, the School will focus on increased experiential learning opportunities for our students and encourage research that fuels entrepreneurship.”
Holston holds both a B.A .and MBA from Stanford University and was the recipient of the 2014 Colorado Technology Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Prior to his work at Blackstone, he held senior executive positions at GE and NBC, in addition to his work as founding CEO of Newsgator (now Sitrion), a $33 million venture-capital funded enterprise in social software.
“I’m honored to join the leadership team at this exciting time for the University of Denver,” said Holston. “It’s a perfect moment for the Ritchie School and DU to accelerate impact at the epicenter of the extraordinary Colorado innovation and entrepreneurship phenomenon. I’m also personally very happy to serve the DU community, where our children attended the Ricks Center, our son competed nationally with the Hilltoppers program, I’ve competed as a Masters’ athlete, and our niece recently graduated.”
Holston, who lives with his family in Denver, is active in civic initiatives around economic development, innovation, open government, entrepreneurship, impact investing and microfinance. He serves as chairman of the board of Sitrion and sits on the Board of the Colorado Innovation Network, the Colorado Impact Fund, Accion, and other organizations. Holston will continue on the Steering Committee as Founding Director of the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network in Colorado.