Entrepreneur In Residence

An Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) position was created in 2009 to provide students with an additional respected mentoring resource with deep entrepreneurial experience. Our past Entrepreneurs in Residence have coached and mentored students, guest lectured and have assisted with student placement, internships and professional development.

Current Status of the Program: As part of our regular due diligence process to ensure that we are offering the best resources for our students, we are currently benchmarking our Entrepreneur in Residence program.

Our past Entrepreneurs in Residence include:


Chris Allison

Chris AllisonIn 1988, Allison co-founded Tollgrade Communications, a leading provider of hardware and software network assurance testing solutions for the telecommunications and cable broadband industries. At the company, he served as chief executive officer, chairman and CEO and later retired in 2005. Allison is responsible for raising $6 million in start-up capital and growing the company’s sales from zero in 1988 to $114 million in 2000, as well as helping complete two successful mergers and acquisition transactions.

Allison has earned more than 20 business and writing awards, including the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005 and the Pittsburgh Venture Capital Association 2002 Entrepreneur of the Year. His efforts also helped Tollgrade Communications receive Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s No.1 ranking in its Top 50 Public Companies of 2000.

Currently, Allison serves on the board of trustees and as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Allegheny College. He is columnist of “You’ll Manage” for Pittsburgh Quarterly Magazine and contributor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial page. Allison is also a member of the board of directors for the Timesys Corporation.

James Van Eerden

Jim_Van_EerdenJames “Jim” Van Eerden is a cofounder and managing director of Helixx Partners, LLC. He has extensive background in brand-building and as an early-stage business architect, including start-up assignments for global 2000 companies like Southwest Airlines, USA Today, Pearson Education, USA Today, GM and others.

Jim is especially involved in cause-based enterprises and movements.  He has co-founded prominent social impact companies like MISSION Athletecare and Sevenly, as well as global non-profit initiatives like H2O Africa and Free Think U.  He has also served as senior counsel for corporate philanthropic projects like Refresh Everything for PepsiCo, and has helped originate numerous cause-based educational movements like The Centurions Program for Charles Colson, The Cultivate Project for Jeff Myers, The City Renewal Campaign for Tim Keller, and the Live58 Global Impact Tour for Compassion International.

Jim has also served as Executive Producer for several award-winning feature films including the Academy Award nominee MOST, Bobby JonesThe Ultimate Gift and The Perfect Game – and educational documentaries such as the critically acclaimed films WarChild and Running the Sahara, each of which carried a philanthropic mission and raised millions of dollars for charity.

In addition to his undergraduate degree (BA-Business Administration) from Grove City College, Jim completed a graduate study certificate in International Business at Oxford University (St. Peter’s College), an MA in Philosophy (Trinity International University), an MBA (Wake Forest University), and is a candidate for a doctoral degree in global education (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary).

Jim has been a guest lecturer on business and social entrepreneurship at forums including The National Press Club and Harvard University, and is a member of the Board of Directors for The Society for Classical Learning.  He and his wife Rachel and their 11 children live on a family homestead near Greensboro, North Carolina.