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Cal Poly Pomona Experts Guide


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As the university’s associate vice president for academic innovation, Olukemi Sawyerr is responsible for advancing opportunities for student experiential learning, discovery, and innovation across campus. She joined the university in 2002 as a professor of management and has served as the inaugural director for the Student Innovation Idea Lab, which supports student creativity and entrepreneurship, and has supported the creation of innovation spaces including the Student Innovation Idea Lab, the Library Maker Studio, and the off-campus Innovation Orchard at a local high school.


Sawyerr has founded or co-founded multiple innovative curricular and co-curricular programs through which Cal Poly Pomona students gain experiential learning opportunities in the spirit of learn-by-doing. These include the Cal Poly Pomona Entrepreneurship in STEAM (E-STEAM), iStartup Academy, NASA Technology Assessment, and CPP NASA Licensing and Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program (LEAP) programs. Her curricular innovations have garnered her national and international attention.


She is currently the state chair of the American Council on Education (ACE) Women’s Network of Southern California. From 2008-2012, she served an executive coach and strategy faculty member for the National Association of Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) Executive Leadership Development Program at the University of California Los Angeles.


Recent Grants and Fellowships:

  • U.S. Small Business Administration, “STEA2M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Agriculture, and Mathematics) Innovation Hub,” Pomona CA, $1,000,000 (2021-2026)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF), “HSI Institutional Transformation Project: Cal Poly Pomona Intentional Venture Engaging STEM Students,” $3,000,000 2021-2026
  • Kellogg Legacy Endowment; “Creativity, Discovery and Innovation;” $365,000 (2018-2020) and
  • $350,000 (2020-2022)
  • Cal Poly Pomona, National Science Foundation I-Corps Site Grant, $180,000 (2018-2022)
  • Cal Poly Pomona; Special Projects for Improving the Classroom Experience (SPICE) Grant, Equipment for CPP Maker Studio, $11,272; University Makerspace, $48,000 (2018-2019)
  • Co-Principal Investigator, NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, “Technology Assessments for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) Technology Transfer Office (TTO),” $195,176 (2010-2019)

Selected Publications:

  • With A. Vuorio and G. Zichella, “The Impact of Contingencies on Entrepreneurship Education Outcomes,” Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy, 1-32, DOI:10.1177/25151274221104702, 2022
  • With B. Ebrahimi, “Executive Environmental Scanning and Strategic Uncertainty: the Impact of Institutional Context,” International Studies of Management & Organization, 52: 1, 7-24, DOI: 10.1080/00208825.2021.2023442, 2022
  • With S.J. Yoo and W.L. Tan, “The Mediating Effect of Absorptive Capacity and Relational Capital in Alliance Learning of SMEs,” Journal of Small Business Management, 54(S1): 234-255, 2016
  • With S.J. Yoo and W.L. Tan,  “The Impact of Exogenous and Endogenous Factors on External Knowledge Sourcing for Innovation: The Dual Effects of the External Environment,” Journal of High Technology Management Research, 26: 14-26, 2015
  • With S.J. Yoo, “The Search for Broad Environmental Information and New Product Development Success in Technology-Based SMEs,” Journal of Enterprising Culture, 22 (1): 1-29, 2014
  • With S. Abraham, “Auto-Graphics Inc. and the Library Automation Industry-the New Technology Frontier,” Case Research Journal, 32 (3): 1-31, 2012
  • With W. Dong and S. Emerson, “Student Partnerships for Innovation in Engineering Entrepreneurship Development (SPIEED): Developing Entrepreneurial Competencies in Twenty-First Century Engineers,” Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 12 (4): 24-43, 2012
  • With J. Almaraz and J. Bassett, “Transitioning into a Major: The Effectiveness of an Academic Intervention Course,” Journal of Education for Business, 85(6): 343-348, 2010
  • With S. Srinivas and S. Wang, “Call Center Employee Personality Factors and Service Performance,” Journal of Services Marketing, 23(5): 301-317, 2009
  • With J. Strauss, “Religiosity and Attitudes Toward Diversity: A Potential Workplace Conflict,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39(11): 2626-2650, 2009


B.B.A., M.B.A., Texas Woman’s University

Ph.D., Strategic Management/Organization Theory and Policy, University of North Texas

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