State Entrepreneurship Center Directors Practice what they Preach
I was fortunate to be included in the founding meeting of the Michigan Entrepreneurship Education Leaders Forum. The group consisted of Entrepreneurship Center directors from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, Eastern Michigan University, Central Michigan University, and Grand Valley State University. I represented WMU.
Why did we meet? The starting point for any entrepreneur is “opportunity recognition” and that is the primary goal of the Leaders Forum. We seek opportunities to learn from each other as we build our centers to best meet the needs of the state and our regions. Our meeting lasted two days and the conversation generally evolved around two key themes:
- How can we use our centers to foster entrepreneurship education?
- How can we use our centers as catalysts for economic development?
I learned from my colleagues how different the centers are and I think that’s necessary because we should reflect the unique needs of the stakeholders we serve. For example, Michigan’s Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and Innovation is a university-wide effort to promote entrepreneurship across all programs. In contrast, the focus of Grand Valley’s center is directed primarily to meet the needs of the business community while those of Central Michigan University are focused on a very popular undergraduate major. As I listened to others, I wrestled with the question, “What should WE expect ofour center?”
I left the meeting energized about the future of the Haworth College of Business Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and Innovation. We’ve hired two new entrepreneurship faculty members who will start in September. Coupled with those of us who are passionate about entrepreneurship education, and in tandem with Dean Palan’s vision, we have the opportunity to create something valuable to our students and the business community. That opportunity is exciting for the Haworth College of Business!