Tech Titan Howard Tullman to Lead New Innovation Institute at IIT


Former 1871 CEO Howard Tullman on Tuesday was named the first executive director of the Kaplan Institute at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He begins his new position May 1.

“The beauty of this is, I had a staff of 30 at 1871 and we supported several thousand people a day and 500 companies,” Tullman said. “The difference here is that you have a whole university, and we’re sort of an enhancement and a supplement to that rather than having to start from zero.”

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In October 2018, the Kaplan Institute will open in a new two-story building designed by John Ronan Architects. It will be the first new academic building on campus since the 1970s.

And there’s another change in store for IIT.

“One of the really special aspects of the new facility is that we’re moving the Design School from downtown back to the campus,” Tullman said. “So we’ll have in one place design, architecture, engineering, technology and entrepreneurship, all of those components. So that’ll be a very rich set of resources to draw from in terms of building this new idea.”

  • (Illinois Institute of Technology / John Ronan Architects)

    (Illinois Institute of Technology / John Ronan Architects)

  • (Illinois Institute of Technology / John Ronan Architects)

    (Illinois Institute of Technology / John Ronan Architects)

  • (Illinois Institute of Technology / John Ronan Architects)

    (Illinois Institute of Technology / John Ronan Architects)

According to IIT, the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship will be “a hub for discovery, innovation, and business creation, giving students the skills and experience needed to make their innovations viable for the market.”

IIT identified goals for Tullman as leader of the Kaplan Center:

• Ensuring all undergraduate students acquire superior innovation and entrepreneurship skills and experience.

• Building strong partnerships with external organizations and entrepreneurs.

• Helping recruit creative students interested in STEM fields

• Providing tools and skills for students to solve complex and significant challenges.

“I feel like very few people even understand how substantial IIT was for so many years. It was really one of the ranked engineering schools in the country, and it’s hard to keep up to pace if you haven’t been able to expand and grow and do everything,” Tullman said. “We see the Kaplan Institute as really formative and an anchor for the next generation of new tech employees.”

Tullman announced in 2017 he was stepping down as CEO of the tech hub 1871. Prior to 1871, he co-founded Tribeca Flashpoint College and was president of Kendall College. He’s a member of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s ChicagoNEXT council, the Illinois Arts Council, and the advisory council for the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Tullman will give the commencement speech at IIT on May 12, 2018.


Related stories:

1871 CEO Howard Tullman a Cryptocurrency Skeptic

Tullman to Step Down from 1871 Leadership Role at End of Year

Exploring the Technology Behind IIT’s Microgrid


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