Ursinus Magazine

Manning Smith ’23

U-Imagine Center Has Much to Celebrate for Its 10th Anniversary

Since 2013, the U-Imagine Center for Integrative and Entrepreneurial Studies has worked to develop and sustain a campuswide entrepreneurial spirit via a year-round series of programs, events, competitions, and—as of this semester—a new minor as well as a concentration in the new business economics major.

The center serves as the cornerstone of Ursinus’s initiative to foster an entrepreneurial mindset in every student, regardless of major or career interest. At the time of its launch in 2013, U-Imagine was the college’s second strategic interdisciplinary center, joining the Parlee Center for Science and the Common Good. (The establishment of the Melrose Center for Global Civic Engagement followed in 2016.)

Entrepreneur-in-Residence Maureen Cumpstone ’79 is the current director of U-Imagine and oversees its 10 students scholars as well as its programs and initiatives, which include the BEAR Innovation Competition (which awards $10,000 annually for creative pitches), Digital Spark (a summer program in which students execute a focused digital marketing project for a local business), and the UC Imagine Fest (a 15-hour marathon event during which students work together to find innovative solutions for existing problems—and pitch their ideas to a panel of judges in hopes of winning a cash prize).

“Having the opportunity to be part of the growth of the U-Imagine Center has provided me with great satisfaction,” said Cumpstone. “I am immensely proud of the accomplishments of all the students who have engaged with the U-Imagine Center.”

President Robyn Hannigan joined students, alumni, and friends of the center for an event celebrating the 10-year milestone on October 19. “U-Imagine is an incubator for bold ideas, curating innovation and allowing students to test boundaries. But they do this with guidance and support from a community of staff, faculty, industry and organizational partners, alumni, and parents,” said Hannigan.

She praised the U-Imagine Center for mobilizing students to serve the community. “As they engage in hands-on experience, they also aid local businesses and organizations. It’s a wonderful mutually beneficial partnership. They fulfill an industry need and in return our students receive career readiness that makes them more employable after graduation.”

The event was sponsored by U-Imagine’s advisory council and hosted by council member Rob Gilfillan ’91 at the Malvern headquarters for his company, Cenero. Professor Emerita of Business and Economics Carol Cirka and Associate Professor Emerita of English Rebecca Jaroff ’81, two of U-Imagine’s co-founders, were in attendance.

Jackie Gleason ’82, co-owner of Four Lanterns Winery in California, provided samples for a wine tasting and Lee Griffith ’88, owner of Margaritas-2U, provided frozen drinks. Manning Smith ’23 spoke about the impact U-Imagine had on his academic career, and students who participated in this past summer’s Digital Spark program held a poster session to illustrate their accomplishments.

“Alumni and friends of the center enjoyed the opportunity to connect, meet new members of the Ursinus community, and learn what the U-Imagine Center does to inspire, promote, empower, and teach students to develop entrepreneurial skills that prepare them for success in whatever career they choose,” said Cumpstone.

Over the past decade, the center has engaged more than 1,000 students in its programs, provided marketing support to nearly 100 businesses, and hosted more than 200 alumni and external experts on campus to provide guidance, insight, and mentorship to students.

As part of U-Imagine’s curriculum, a new entrepreneurial studies minor was added this fall. It is a 24-credit course of study designed for students who have an interest in entrepreneurial thought and action. Students are inspired to be problem solvers, creative members of innovative teams, change agents, and mission-driven leaders. In addition, the new business economics major boasts an entrepreneurship concentration.

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