Chancellor's Biography

Stephen Spinelli Jr., Ph.D., became chancellor of Jefferson on July 1, 2017 when Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University officially combined to form one comprehensive national university focused on professional education.  Dr. Spinelli became president of Philadelphia University on September 1, 2007.

Dr. Spinelli has spent his career at the intersection of academia, business and philanthropy, and in his first act as president, he and the Board of Trustees developed the vision of PhilaU becoming the model for professional university education in the 21st century. He established a dynamic planning process that resulted in the 2008 Strategic Plan to achieve that vision, which formalized the University’s award-winning signature approach to teaching and learning, Nexus Learning – active, collaborative, real world learning infused with the liberal arts – and established the unique Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce.

Dr. Spinelli’s leadership has resulted in 10 years of solid balance sheets, positive operating margins and doubling of the endowment. Entering into the combination with Jefferson, Philadelphia University enjoyed record enrollment and retention, with particular growth of graduate enrollment, continuing and professional studies enrollment, and online enrollment. During Dr. Spinelli’s presidency, the University achieved 148 percent of its largest capital campaign well before its conclusion. The University garnered numerous national and international awards for its curriculum, Strategic Plan, and student and faculty work, as well as national and international rankings for 10 of its academic programs. PhilaU began a focus on innovation, established the vice presidency for innovation, established The Celebration of Innovation with title sponsorship from Verizon, and opened the University’s Entrepreneurship Center. Dr. Spinelli and his team opened facilities to advance student success such as the SEED Center; Lawrence N. Field Design, Engineering and Commerce Center; Nexus Learning Hubs; and the Arlen Specter Center for Community Service. His presidency also included the expansion of the University’s Board of Trustees, the launch of PhilaU Online; recruitment of more than 40 industry partners to collaborate on innovation projects with students across the curriculum, including Johnson & Johnson, Georgia Pacific, Federal-Mogul, Verizon, and Comcast; opening of the Fashion and Textiles Futures Center; remodeling and opening of new residence halls; expansion of the University’s global footprint with programs in Rome, Milan and international partnerships, such as the Global Design Factory Network through Aalto University; and achieving of 95 percent job success and graduate school acceptance rate.

Previously, Dr. Spinelli held a variety of faculty and leadership positions at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, including vice provost for entrepreneurship and global management, chair of the entrepreneurship division and director of the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship. As vice provost, Dr. Spinelli was instrumental in strengthening and growing important initiatives, including the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the world's largest collaborative research project studying entrepreneurship, the Entrepreneurship Intensity Track curriculum, the “Rocket Pitch” community outreach initiative and doubling the entrepreneurship faculty. He was also responsible for expanding the Symposium for Entrepreneurship Educators, founded by Jeffrey Timmons, to an international program.

Dr. Spinelli’s work has appeared in journals such as The Journal of the Society for College and University Planning, Journal of Business Venturing, the British Management Journal and Frontiers of Entrepreneurship. He has also been featured in such popular press as the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Boston Globe, Entrepreneur, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Economist, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Business Week. He has authored numerous business cases, book chapters, and co-authored Disrupt Together: How Teams Consistently Innovate; Business Plans That Work; Franchising: Pathway to Wealth Creation; How to Raise Capital; Never Bet the Farm; The Casebook for Young Entrepreneurs; Entrepreneurship: The Engine of Growth; and New Venture Creation for the 21st Century, now in its tenth edition.

Dr. Spinelli has consulted for or led executive education programs for corporations such as, Intel Corporation, IBM Corporation, Allied Domecq and Planet Fitness. He has served on a number of corporate Boards and in leadership roles for community, business, and professional associations.

Currently, he serves on the Board of Advisors for the Berwind Corporation and the Board of Directors for Planet Fitness. He has also served on the Boards of Trustees of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Episcopal Academy, Greater Philadelphia Life Sciences Congress, and Ben Franklin Technology Partnership of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

He has been invited to speak and lecture at numerous conferences and universities around the world, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgetown University, Villanova University, Ulster University, the Brazil Symposium for Entrepreneurship Educators, INMAX Annual Meeting, American Cities Foundation, Planet Fitness National Convention, entrepreneurship at conferences around the world and Union League, Babson College, New Jersey Technology Council, Young Presidents’ Organization, and The London Business School.

Previously, Dr. Spinelli was co-founder of Jiffy Lube International under the leadership of his college football coach, Jim Hindman, and was chairman and CEO of the American Oil Change Corporation, helping to pioneer the quick lube industry nationwide and turning Jiffy Lube into the nation’s dominant competitor with more than 1,000 service centers.

Dr. Spinelli received his Ph.D. in Economics from The Management School, Imperial College, University of London, his M.B.A. from Babson College, and his B.A. in Economics from McDaniel College. In 2016, he received the honorary degree Doctor of Letters from Ulster University in Ireland.