[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen Jen Blackmer and I had our first lunch to talk about entrepreneurial learning, we realized we had the same mission — to give all our students an opportunity to pursue their dreams. They want to influence the world. Jen, as associate provost for entrepreneurial learning, and I will work closely to ensure Ball State gives students the skills and encouragement to pursue those dreams.
Entrepreneurial learning encourages students to change the status quo and have a long-term effect on society. Most importantly, it provides a way to flourish in the 21st century.
So, what skills will students gain? Let’s start with empathy, creativity, smart risk-taking and organizational savvy, all needed for personal development and career success. Yes, risks sometimes end in mistakes. But when we adapt after making mistakes and overcome obstacles, we develop resilience.
Our graduates must become self-directed to take charge of their futures, and the entrepreneurial mindset of using passion and tenacity to bring new things into the world will help them thrive.
But this style of teaching and learning is not just about career success. The campus has learned about infusing the entrepreneurial spirit with beneficence, a Ball State tradition, to create missionary entrepreneurship. These innovators let integrity guide them while making the world a better place.
Uncovering people’s real problems and designing elegant solutions requires integrating knowledge across disciplines, collaborating with diverse groups of people and, most importantly, managing projects to completion.
Some of our students have done just that:
- Matt Prasek and Noah Rahimzadeh won our undergraduate Bird Cage business pitch competition, graduated in 2015 and have started their company, Safekeeping, outside Indianapolis. It helps families monitor the health and well-being of loved ones in long-term care facilities.
- After getting her entrepreneurship degree, Kate Endress Doerksen became an investment banking analyst at Citi, got an MBA from Stanford University and now is CEO of Ditto. The company she cofounded sells designer eyewear online to customers who create a facial video and then use a patented 3-D technology to virtually try on glasses.
- In one of my graduate entrepreneurship courses, Larson Manifold developed an idea for a home health care company. In a few years since graduation, he and his wife have built a company that employs 60 around South Bend, Elkhart and Goshen.
As the university’s first chief entrepreneurship officer, I’ll promote entrepreneurial learning to our students, faculty, campus leaders, partner communities — and to those in other countries. I’ll support the Summer Entrepreneurial Learning Academy with pedagogy and workshops, train senior campus leaders and coordinate other related initiatives. It’s a busy job, but it will let me help us become the national model for entrepreneurial learning.
We can embed that mindset and skill set in all disciplines. Empowering students to seize opportunities will be a great asset, and a university where entrepreneurial learners actively seek to share new solutions will have a major effect on surrounding communities.
We can do this because entrepreneurship is in our DNA. We sprang from the vision of the five Ball brothers, whose desire to expand their glass container business led them to Muncie. Think about the entrepreneurial leaders who have spent formative years here — David Letterman, John Schnatter, Angela Ahrendts, Jim Davis. Entrepreneurial learning will let us provide more transformative opportunities to all of our students.
Who will be the next alum to place a signature on the world?