Professional Bio

Deborah Streeter is the Bruce F. Failing, Sr. Professor of Personal Enterprise and Small Business Management in theDepartment of Applied Economics and Management in theCollege of Agricultural and Life Sciences at Cornell University.

Entrepreneurship and small business management are the focus of Dr. Streeter’s teaching, research, and outreach activities. She specializes in teaching business planning, small business management, gender and leadership and entrepreneurial leadership. Her research interests include: models of entrepreneurship education, the role of entrepreneurship and small business in economic development, the impact of business training on firm sustainability, and commercialization of university technology.

She has received the following awards:

  • 2007: Olympus Innovative Educator Award
  • 2003: Outstanding Educator for having influenced a Merrill Presdential Scholar
  • 2002: Professor of Merit (awarded by students)
  • 2001: USDA National Food and Agricultural Sciences Excellence in College and University Teaching
  • 2000: Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow (highest teaching honor at Cornell)
  • 2000: SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • 1999: CALS Innovative Teacher Award
  • 1999: Outstanding Educator for having influenced a Merrill Presidential Scholar
  • 1996: Outstanding Educator for having influenced a Merrill Presidential Scholar
  • 1994: Young Faculty Teaching Excellence Award


Professional Years

A major project of Dr. Streeter’s has been the development of Cornell’s eClips, the world’s largest collection of digital video clips on Entrepreneurship, Business and Leadership, in use in over a 1000 universities and more than 75 countries. She has created a variety of educational materials built on a database of digital video interviews with entrepreneurs from across the country. The video material is cut into clips by topic and used in a multi-media format to teach entrepreneurship and small business management. eClips are also used in a variety of teaching cases and simulations.

In 2008, Dr. Streeter signed a commercialization agreement with CCTEC (Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization) and started Prendismo in collaboration with KensaGroup, LLC an intellectual property development company in Ithaca, N.Y. Prendismo is:

  • A business resource for entrepreneurs and small business owners
  • A channel through which companies can broadcast their brand to prospective customers, employees and partners
  • A provider of tagged content that can be used by publishers and information companies to expand existing asset bases and enliven print-based products
  • A tool for businesses wanting to capture the real stories of its executives and employees in order to capitalize on the content as a knowledge management tool for their organization.

Dr. Streeter holds an M.S. (1980) and Ph.D. (1984) in Agricultural Economics from the University of Wisconsin Madison. She is a member of a university-wide program in entrepreneurship, the [email protected] program.


Personal Journey

Many people have asked me how I started as a Portuguese major at UConn, became and agricultural economist at UW-Madison and ended up teaching entrepreneurship at Cornell University. It is a bit of a twisted path, but I will describe some of it here in the hope that it will inspire those who are wandering their trail not quite sure of the right direction. I always counsel advisees and friends to follow their bliss and you’ll see why.

I loved language and decided to take Portuguese in college so I could visit my Brazilian AFS sister, who lived with my family during my high school years. I spent my junior year in Brazil and became interested in Latin America, thinking that someday I would love to work in the developing world.

When stumbling around after college (it was the 70s – we didn’t have career tracks back then!), I was counseled to think about agricultural economics as a specific skill that would help in positioning myself for work overseas. After studying at University of Wisconsin, I got more interested in commercial agriculture and ended up spending time as a commodity analyst in a small, entrepreneurial firm (AgriData Resources, Inc.) in Milwaukee, where I really learned to think on my feet as an economist.

Personal computers were just coming out and from the moment I bought my Osborne 1 (yes, 64K, 5-inch screen, 35 lbs), I fell in love with technology and started living at the “bleeding edge.” I’ve been dripping blood there ever since, always the first on my block to own the newest gadget or try the latest thing. Now my favorite device is my Kindle DX.

When I started as a faculty member at Cornell in 1986, I was teaching both information technology courses and futures and options trading curricula. By the early 90s, however, a unique opportunity presented itself to step into an endowed chair position in entrepreneurship. Although I had no formal training in this relatively new field, it was exciting and well aligned with my interests in technology and all things innovative.

Entrepreneurship has proven to be just the right field for me. It has fascinating research possibilities (Does business training increase the chances a business will be sustainable? How do risk attitudes impact success? What are the key factors that matter in moving technologies from the university labs into the marketplace?) and draws the most fascinating students, with great optimism and creativity.

The moral to my story is that when you follow your bliss, you travel to places you had not even imagined!


Family Life

My journey included a rich family life. I grew up with an older sister and 3 younger brothers. My mother has been a great inspiration to me, as she has always had a very active intellectual life, even now in her 80s (she just finished writing a book!). Mom had a political career as a mayor and then a state senator at a time when it was more fashionable for middle-class women to be collecting recipes and attending PTA meetings. (Although she was not one for recipes, she did help lead the PTA). Our mother’s strong affiliation with the League of Women Voters meant that my sister and I were always surrounded by strong female role models. My father, a hard-working insurance executive, put all five children through college and was a generous and loving parent to me, despite a very demanding career that involved relocating frequently and traveling constantly.

Now, as a working mom myself, I appreciate what it must have been like for them to try and shepherd all their kids while having busy lives of their own. My husband, Dr. Tom Owens, is also an academic and we really have enjoyed raising our three kids together. It definitely calls for teamwork! Our children, now all young adults, are a constant source of wonder and admiration for us. They have taught us a lot over the years and we love watching them as they come into their own.

To unwind and for balance, I like biking, reading and making cards. (Ok, so I also watch “So You Think You Can Dance!”) My faith has played an important role in my life as well, and the First Presbyterian Church of Ithaca has been an important spiritual home for my whole family.