Special to TH
Washington Times Herald
The WestGate Authority, a nine-member board overseeing the development and advancement of the WestGate @ Crane Technology Park, has named Donald P. Schulte to serve as the park's executive director. Schulte, 55, formerly served as Director of Engagement for the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Crane Division, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) before retiring in February after a 36-year civilian technology and administrative career with the U.S. Navy.
"Don's extensive background in key military technology and supply issues will serve WestGate well. Also, his prior senior management experience for several NAVSEA, NAVAIR and other military programs correlate well with the needs of Westgate," said John Mensch, President of the Authority. "With the number of issues facing the U.S. defense industry, Crane and Westgate tenants will all benefit from Don's vast experience and strong leadership." "I have had several opportunities to support WestGate during my career at NSWC Crane, and now it's very exciting to be able to work directly on growing the park," said Schulte. He noted that his focus will be on ensuring that WestGate strategically matches the opportunities that being immediately next to NSWC Crane brings.
With the background of a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University, a master's degree in public administration from Indiana University and more than two decades of technology management and development, "Schulte's educatonal background fits WestGate extremely well," said Mensch. Schulte said he expects to spend considerable time identifying and supporting opportunities for commercial technology transfer from NSWC Crane into the private sector. This will include both established and start-up companies in WestGate.
"The challenge for military patents and intellectual property is that they were originally developed for highly specific purposes," Schulte explained.
"These same patents often have strategic applications for other industries and sectors, so it becomes a question of finding good fits for developed technology." Noted Mensch: "We look forward to Don engaging WestGate with universities and colleges. He will also build a strong working relationship with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Radius Indiana, plus defense and technology driven organizations." Schulte said that he also plans to work directly with existing tenants currently within WestGate to maximize their southern Indiana operations.
"Tenant retention and growth, in addition to prospecting for new tenants, is very important," Schulte continued. WestGate currently has more than 12 major defense-related contractors working in more than a quarter of a million square feet of new construction.
"As I-69 continues to link up toward Indianapolis, we expect numerous new opportunities for growth and development to materialize," he said.
Schulte will succeed Greg Jones, executive director of the Southern Indiana Development Commission, who has been serving as interim director of the park since late 2012. Schulte signed his employment contract on March 12 and will report for his first day as executive director on April 1.Mensch said that several good candidates applied for the executive direction position, but that Schulte was "the standout candidate" because of his experience and depth directly related to the WestGate's mission and focus.
"Don exhibited exemplary leadership and management skill as he successfully led four Crane departments," Mensch continued. "More recently he was an integral member of the Crane Executive Leadership Team. This high level team of senior of Crane executives transformed Crane into being a leader of NAVSEA facilities." Mensch went on to say that Don led the strategic planning for the management team that restructured Crane. "Don's outstanding background will enable him to lead WestGate to a new level of success," he concluded.