Dr. Rodney S. Ridley, Sr. is Vice-President of Research Economic Development and Innovation as well as the Founding Dean of the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics (STEAM) College at Alvernia University (AU). He also serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the O’Pake Institute for Economic Development & Entrepreneurship at AU. He is tasked as the key implementor of the Reading CollegeTowne initiative, which is transforming the University and revitalizing downtown Reading. The O’Pake Institute was redesigned in 2019 under his leadership to house “CollegeTowne” and serve as a catalyst for experiential education, entrepreneurship, and economic development. He founded the O’Pake Student Fellows Program, Business Incubator, Technology Transfer Office, Professional Mentor Program and Micro-Grant Fund. He also oversees AU’s Industry Outreach & Venture Investment activities.
Prior to joining AU, he was the Executive Director & Distinguished Professor of the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at Wilkes University. There he was the founding Director of the Wilkes Business Incubator, the Technology Transfer Office, the Industry & Community Outreach Office, and a Micro-Grant Fund. In June 2017, he was named “Innovator of the Year” by the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce.
His professional experiences include Chair/Director & Associate Professor in the ABET accredited Engineering & Physics Division at Wilkes University, Engineering Director at Velox Semiconductor, Vice-President of Technology at Data Friendly Inc, and Principal Engineer & Key Technologist at Fairchild Semiconductor.
Ridley holds 27 US patents, numerous foreign patents and has authored more than 35 journal and conference articles. He earned his Ph.D. in Engineering Science and a M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Penn State University, and a B.S. degree in Physics from Lincoln University (PA).
What experience do you have working on or with a strategic Board of Directors?
I have extensive experience working on strategic Boards. I'm currently an active member of numerous boards.
Please include a brief description of your volunteer experiences within AUTM.
I have been an active volunteer with AUTM since 2015. I have mainly worked on the Small Office Committee (as Co-Chair) and on the Eastern Region Planning Committee. In 2019 I received the AUTM Volunteer Service Award for my work on Small Office Committee.
Why do you want to join the AUTM Board of Directors?
I believe I can add value to AUTM as the role of TTO's is evolving and changing. I have started two different TTO's (including the one at my current institution) and have a Senior Leadership role at my current institution (I serve as VP of Research).
Have you served in a volunteer leadership role for other organizations? If so, please explain.
Yes. I have had extensive activity on a number of Boards including committee chair and other leadership roles.
If elected by the Membership to the Board, would you consider serving as Chair? Please explain.
Yes, however given my current responsibilities it would require coordination with and approval from my institution.
Please share personal strengths that you believe would be valuable to the AUTM Board and/or the strategic direction of the Association.
I believe I have a unique perspective given the roles I have done, from Faculty Member, Dept. Chair, Dean, TTO Director and University VP of Research. Because I work a small regional institution, I have had to be extremely creative in establishing and sustaining our TTO.
What special experience do you have in driving and implementing a strategic plan?
As a Senior University Leader, I have had to create, drive and implement several extensive strategic plans as well as garnering the resources to implement.
How do terms of the position (both responsibilities and time commitment) fit with your other responsibilities? Will you have any conflicts of commitment between your full-time position and your volunteer time on the AUTM Board?
As a board member, there should be minimal conflict.
AUTM is committed to addressing issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion both on the Board and on behalf of our Members. Briefly describe how your experiences can contribute to the Association’s growth in this area.
As an African American male, I have led DEI efforts and activities for years. I believe my personal experiences can add extensive value in this area.
Advocacy for the innovation ecosystem is something AUTM has promoted recently. How do you think AUTM should continue to be involved?
I have led a number of discussion and presentation on the future of TTO's. I believe the regional economic impact of University TTOs as well as the potential impact on University recruiting, mark areas of opportunity for AUTM to help navigate new pathways in.
Is there anything else you would like AUTM Members to know about you before they vote?
I have been an AUTM volunteer for years and have tried to help innovate how TTOs operate and sustain themselves with a specific interest in small TTOs.