The impact of the U-Imagine Center for Integrative and Entrepreneurial Studies across the disciplines was why it was recognized as an exemplary program among emerging entrepreneurship programs at a leading national conference: the United States Association for Small Businessand Entrepreneurship (USASBE), in January. The USASBE is the largest independent, professional academic organization dedicated to advancing entrepreneurship.
The recognition comes just as the Center welcomes branding and innovaton expert Jen Groover Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. in the Blackbox Theater in the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts center.
U-Imagine is not only looking for the next big idea, but it is shifting the campus culture toward “knowing how to think rather than what to think, and challenging conventional thinking and making connections,” said Math and Computer Science faculty April Kontostathis, one of three Center directors. Students from any major can develop an idea into a product or service that creates value by meeting a social or market need.
Twenty percent of Ursinus students and more than 50 percent of the college’s faculty have participated in U-Imagine programs. The Center hosted 16 speakers, among them soft pretzel entrepreneur Anne Beiler (author of Give to Get Again: Auntie Anne Beiler’s Road to Success and Beyond) which drew some 200 members of the campus community between a meeting, talk and book signing.
Last year 30 students vied for awards for fledging business plans under the BEAR (Be Entrepreneurial And Roar) Innovation competition. The Center sponsors events such as san intellectual property workshop, alumni environmental entrepreneurs and a student ethics writing prize.Senior Joshua Williams’ recent externship at the University of Florida Innovations Hub was supported by U-Imagine.
“The Center’s programs encourage creativity and the opportunity to solve problems, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and inspiration through networking with alumni and community entrepreneurs,” says Carol Cirka, professor in the Business and Economics Department, another director. “Proactive strategies to educate and engage faculty help to shift the culture to one that recognizes and embraces an entrepreneurial spirit.”
Upcoming programs include the Jen Groover ‘Inspire event,’ an innovations in journalism panel, a competitive internship, a Dale Carnegie Award and the Spring 2015 Bear competition April 25.
“U-Imagine programs expand and enrich existing multi-disciplinary learning opportunities available to all Ursinus students,” says Professor of English Rebecca Jaroff, the third Center director. “The Center began and remains an interdisciplinary and multi-pronged initiative that builds on the egalitarian foundation of an Ursinus liberal arts education. In the end, entrepreneurship is a narrative of travelling through life and needs to be seen that way. “