Inspiring an Entrepreneurial Spirit at Ursinus
Nearly 27 years after her graduation, alumna Maureen Cumpstone ’79 found herself back on the Ursinus College campus in January 2016—this time as a teacher and advisor in a new role as Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the U-Imagine Center for Integrative and Entrepreneurial Studies. Although U-Imagine was founded back in 2013, it was not until Cumpstone’s appointment that the Center was able to offer a for-credit course in entrepreneurship, as well as expand its other offerings.
Prior to returning to Ursinus, Cumpstone spent more than 30 years working in industry, establishing herself as a successful Montgomery County entrepreneur. In 1995, she launched Sorella Rose, an independently owned restaurant and catering business. She successfully expanded the enterprise to include event planning and a second location.
“It is rewarding to have the opportunity to use the skills and expertise that I have developed over the past 30 years,” says Cumpstone. “It was all a result of the foundation that I received at Ursinus, and I have enjoyed being able to bring that back and work with current students to encourage them to develop that same foundation.”
Cumpstone proved integral to the successful launch of the U-Imagine Center’s Summer Business Assist Program in 2016. This program, held over eight weeks during the summer, paired 14 students with seven local businesses. Students employed their skills to develop and implement new marketing plans for those companies. The businesses saw a boost in their visibility and presence, while the student participants gained hands-on experience through exercising their innovation, leadership and creativity.
“There was a significant impact on the students,” says Cumpstone. “They discovered the entrepreneurial skills that they needed. They thought about and tested ideas, and then implemented those ideas. They were also forced to reevaluate those ideas after-the-fact to assess their usefulness.” Cumpstone described the program as a win-win because both the students and the businesses benefitted.
The Summer Business Assist Program is back for 2017, but with all new businesses and an emphasis on digital-marketing solutions. The hope is that work from this summer with carry over into a student-run digital marketing initiative that will continue to provide services to businesses throughout the school year.
Cumpstone has been excited to work directly with students and help them develop their entrepreneurial spark. From her “Topics in Entrepreneurship” course, to helping conceptualize and run entrepreneurially-focused competitions through the U-Imagine Center, to her work bringing speakers to campus and organizing educational workshops and symposia, she has used a multi-pronged approach to connect with the campus community.
As she thinks back to her own experience as a student at the college, Cumpstone notes that while students today have changed in some ways, there are certainly qualities of the Ursinus Bear that have endured. “I think today’s students have the same level of intellectual curiosity and a desire to be engaged with faculty in a small community,” she says. “That is something distinctly Ursinus, and I don’t think that is something that will ever change.”
Indeed, it is that intellectual curiosity that translates into innovative, creative and successful entrepreneurs.