University of Southern California

Mortar Board Taps Business Professor
Marshall's Kathleen Allen runs the Center for Technology Commercialization
February 5, 2007 • by Arin Mikailian

Professor Kathleen Allen, a co-founder of USC Marshall’s Center for Technology Commercializaation and a teacher in the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, was just honored by USC’s chapter of Mortar Board for her work, a high distinction from her teaching peers. Read about Dr. Allen and her work in this story from the Daily Trojan:

There are many sides to USC professor Kathleen Allen -- entrepreneur, teacher, author and mentor. But in each aspect of her life, she displays a passion for aiding those who demonstrate potential.

After 15 years of working at the university, USC's Torch and Tassel Chapter of Mortar Board honored Allen in a surprise visit during one of her Tuesday night classes.

Hailing from Chicago, Allen spent the early years of her life in the Midwest, but moved to Fresno when she was 10 years old.

"My father worked two jobs, and I developed a really strong work ethic," she said. "He always encouraged us to develop our careers and education."

The words and actions of her father stayed with her into adult life as she quickly advanced in the working world and earned her MBA.

In the earlier stages of her career, Allen worked in commercial real estate and ran three brokerage offices, but realized she had one last step before completing her educational path.

Allen earned a doctorate in business education with an emphasis in entrepreneurship from USC in 1991. She was then offered a position to teach at USC in the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, which she gladly accepted.

Despite her eagerness to share her expertise in the classroom, Allen said she felt compelled to contribute something more than just lectures and notes.

"Anytime you come to a new place, you're going to have to figure out what your niche is," she said. "About 1995, everyone started talking about the Internet, and for me, it was a great area of interest."

Allen said having a father who worked in the technology industry exposed her to a vast array of evolving gadgets, which finally gave her an idea of what she could do to make a difference in the university.

In the spring of 1996, Allen worked with engineering professor George Bekey to launch the USC Marshall Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC), a program designed to provide scientists and researchers with the resources to guide their completed products into the business world.

The aim of the program is to aid researchers by looking at their inventions through the eyes of an entrepreneur, Allen said.

After a scientist or researcher develops something new, she said, the CTC's job is to send it through the proper channels of analysts, resources and investors until it finally arrives in the market.

"There was no real source for help for our researchers at USC who were developing new technologies," she said. "There was no sort of business or market help, so we decided to fill the gap because that's what entrepreneurs do -- they look for needs that are not being served."

During her stay at USC, Allen also spearheaded other programs to strengthen interdisciplinary teamwork such as the Undergraduate Technology Scholars Program, which brought graduate and undergraduate students from the business and engineering schools together to work on projects.

She also wrote 14 books on entrepreneurship, owned two businesses and directed a company that traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Given her hefty schedule, Allen said she always tried to free up time for one of her favorite activities:

"I love the undergrads, they're so exciting," she said. "They have so much enthusiasm I try to help their confidence because even though they're enthusiastic, they're not sure whether someone is going to take them seriously."

Allen said she has always left her office door open for students from all majors to come in and get advice, go over their portfolios and determine their future roles in the world of entrepreneurship.

"She's one of the most challenging professors I've ever had while completing my business minor," said Ashley Prosper, a senior majoring in biology. "She's very willing to work with students outside the classroom. She's been a really invaluable resource for young students entering into the world of entrepreneurship, which is a scary place to go."

Allen's dedication to helping students has not gone unnoticed.

Members of the Mortar Board, including Prosper, singled Allen out for her continuous and tireless efforts to enrich undergraduates.

"I was so surprised; it was such an honor," Allen said. "That the undergraduates would recognize me after all this time was very exciting."

Despite establishing a lengthy résumé and gaining a well-respected name around campus, Allen said she is nowhere near calling it quits and nothing will slow down her progress.

"I'm going to live to be 100," she said. "I've got lots to do."


About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.