Entrepreneurship receives grant for program expansion

April 16th, 2015




Last fall, John Carroll University received a grant in the amount of $51,450 from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation.


According to the announcement from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, “The grant is to be used to support the design of new academic units on entrepreneurship and creativity and enhance faculty learning on teaching entrepreneurship and creativity between 2014-2016.”


The University was notified on Sept. 30 that it had received this grant. This is the third grant JCU has received from this foundation.


“This [entrepreneurship] minor was built by faculty from various different disciplines,” said professor of communication Jacqueline Schmidt, the project manager for the grant. “Once we got the minor going, we went back and asked the Burton D. Morgan Foundation and they gave us another grant.”


The foundation’s website states that its mission is “to champion the entrepreneurial spirit.”


Schmidt explained the process of the grant-sponsored project. “We had to send out a call for faculty who were interested, and then we evaluated those. And those faculty have been working on [proposals] and now they’re starting to submit them and – probably within the next couple of weeks – they’ll all have submitted their proposals,” said Schmidt. “And we’ll see what the core committees think about them and revise if we need to and get them on the schedule.” These classes will be implemented in fall 2015, spring 2016, or fall 2016.


“The faculty working on [the new courses] were sponsored to work on them with the grant,” said Schmidt.


So far, one class has officially been approved: ER 115, Quantitative Analysis, which will be taught by associate professor of management, marketing and logistics Marc Lynn. The class will be offered this fall.


Professor of philosophy Sharon Kaye explained the new class she is working on. “[Associate professor of physics] Naveed Piracha and I submitted an application to create a linked course for the new core. It will combine his new physics course concerning ‘how things work’ with my course on creative and critical thinking,” said Kaye. “We’ve collaborated on a joint assignment where our students will investigate a problem and develop an invention to solve it.”


“We’re trying to look at the new core and find ways in which we can engage with the new core, and make the minor more core-friendly,” said Schmidt. She emphasized this point with the program’s slogan, which is “the key to your major is the entrepreneurship minor.”


Marketing, management and entrepreneurship instructor and Burton D. Morgan fellow in entrepreneurship Jill Bernaciak described the expected benefits for the University. “The grant represents a campus-wide collaborative initiative that will bring the John Carroll mission alive in the classroom,” she said. “In my course, students will learn how social entrepreneurs develop their visions for positive social impact to benefit marginalized people across a wide range of complex social problems.”


Schmidt explained that the classes within the minor are applicable to virtually any area of study. “When you look around and you use the skills that you’ve developed and the thoughts you’ve developed and you see problems through the lenses of your major, you bring it back in and then you share with other people from diverse backgrounds and you come up with a better solution,” Schmidt said.


Another aspect of the grant is a “faculty learning community.” This allows JCU faculty members to discuss different ideas for a variety of classes. So far, 17 faculty members have expressed interest in the learning community.


“We will be planning some meetings for that learning community–one probably before the term is over, and then four more next year with a workshop,” said Schmidt.


The learning community will focus on creativity, according to Schmidt. “We’ll be talking about things in general about creativity; exercises in creativity; how do you assess creativity; creativity in various different disciplines,” Schmidt continued. “And then the take-away would be that each faculty member who’s a part of this learning community will develop two exercises that could be used in their classes.”


The faculty member will then send their ideas to Canvas, where other faculty members can see them.


“And that grant allowed us to fund ten faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences to put units in creativity and entrepreneurship into their classes,” said Schmidt.


About the minor in general, Schmidt said, “While some aspects are more business-dominated, like financing and some of those issues, the process about entrepreneurial thinking, which is what we’re really about in this minor and with this grant and our approach at John Carroll, is not so much to go out and start a business, but to create an entrepreneurial mindset.”


Schmidt described the mindset as being present in “a person who asks questions, a person who recognizes problems and figures out alternatives and sees an opportunity to make a change, and then can follow through with that process in terms of how they develop it.”


Assistant visiting professor in entrepreneurship and marketing Tom Bonda said, “The entrepreneurship minor is presently ranked in the top 25 programs in the country.  With this grant we will be able to continue to improve the minor and align it with the new core.”


When asked who will benefit from this grant, Schmidt replied, “I think the whole University will. I think faculty will. Any time you share with faculty and you find out what other people think, you learn. And I think overall the biggest beneficiaries, of course. will be our students.”


Kaye explained her thoughts on the potential benefits of the foundation’s grant.


“John Carroll students benefit from the grant by gaining the opportunity to learn how to think outside the box,” said Kaye. “Consider how different the world would be if everyone was on the lookout for problems that need to be solved. Rather than accepting things the way they are, our students will acquire the habit of thinking, ‘how can I improve this? Is there a better way?’ This is a valuable life skill, but it is also attractive to potential employers,” she said.


“The linked course I developed with Dr. Piracha will be part of a whole set of new core courses, which will transform our University, starting this fall,” said Kaye. She continued, “The new core will emphasize the interconnection between the disciplines. Combining diverse methods and ideas in this new way has been a great inspiration to us as instructors; we anticipate that students will be equally inspired.”


Schmidt summarized the academic goal of the entrepreneurship program.


“And because we are a minor, and because we want to work with so many people from different majors rather than to have a major, what we’re suggesting is that what we help you do is find ways in which you can launch ideas that come out of your major,” said Schmidt.


The Burton D. Morgan Foundation grant will continue to fund projects in the entrepreneurship department through 2016.