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Feb. 29, 2008

Entrepreneurship leaders

Founding members still active in the Entrepreneurship Faculty Leaders committee: Linda Niehm, assistant professor of apparel, education studies and hospitality management (seated, left); Don Draper, University Professor of biomedical sciences (seated, right); Howard Van Auken, professor of management (standing, left); Steve Herrnstadt, professor of art and design (standing, center); and Mark Rectanus, professor of world languages and cultures (standing, right). Photo by Bob Elbert.

Faculty leaders coordinate campus entrepreneurism

by Mike Ferlazzo, News Service

The catch phrase "thinking outside the box" is all the rage. Howard Van Auken will tell you it's just another way to describe entrepreneurship -- except entrepreneurship really is thinking without the box.

Van Auken would know. The Bob and Kay Smith Fellow in Entrepreneurship and professor of management has been teaching entrepreneurship in the College of Business since 1995.

But he hasn't just been teaching business students. Fellow ISU faculty members also have tapped Van Auken's entrepreneurial knowledge. They've found that entrepreneurship -- the critical thinking skills that help people recognize and evaluate opportunities and learn how to acquire resources to pursue those opportunities -- can benefit other majors.

"I had a professor from the College of Design say, 'You know, some of my students may not make their living being artists, but they could manage an artists' studio, or an art shop,'" Van Auken said. "So they, in many respects, have embraced entrepreneurship."

Conversations like that got Van Auken thinking about a big opportunity -- to introduce entrepreneurship on a more formal level across the university. And with the help of the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, he hosted a luncheon more than two years ago with seven other ISU faculty members interested in entrepreneurship.

Early enthusiasm

From that luncheon, the Entrepreneurship Faculty Leaders committee was born. Of that initial group, Don Draper, University Professor of biomedical sciences; Steve Herrnstadt, professor of art and design; Linda Niehm, assistant professor of apparel, education studies and hospitality management; and Mark Rectanus, professor of world languages and cultures, continue to serve on the committee, which is chaired by Van Auken. It now includes one representative from each college.

Soon after the committee was formed, college deans agreed to work with faculty from the College of Business and staff from the Pappajohn Center to explore opportunities for integrating entrepreneurship across their curricula. And the campus has become increasingly entrepreneurial.

For example

Last month, Iowa State established one of the nation's first professorships in veterinary entrepreneurial studies and made Draper the first holder of the Dr. David R. Trask Professorship in Entrepreneurial Studies.

With the new funding, Draper is conducting a Young Entrepreneur Seminar Series, bringing in five recent graduates of the college to share experiences from their own veterinary practices. In April, he will host three veterinarian CEOs with established businesses to talk about their experiences.

Four faculty teams in the College of Human Sciences received Pappajohn Center grants in the past year to expand various aspects of entrepreneurship education. Grant projects included developing creativity modules, teaching modules on persuasive communication and mitigating risk, and integrating technology into rural communities.

Niehm also is working with Sara Marcketti, assistant professor of apparel, education studies and hospitality management, on an entrepreneurship education plan in human sciences.

"The College of Human Sciences views entrepreneurship as an important process and skill set, including community and entrepreneurship as a key component of its vision and mission statement," Niehm said. "In human sciences, we're concerned with maximizing human potential and improving life quality in communities, businesses and organizations, making entrepreneurship an excellent fit with the focus of the college and student career interests."

In world languages and cultures, Rectanus and Chad Gasta, associate professor of Spanish, are developing a series of modules for students in their business and professions classes. The modules will introduce entrepreneurship in the context of each language and culture and assist students who study abroad.

"A lot of the characteristics of entrepreneurship -- working in an ambiguous environment, risk-taking, and developing self-confidence and teamwork -- are the skills students learn from the study-abroad experience," Van Auken said. "Languages help introduce a set of skills that make the students have these characteristics that we associate with entrepreneurs."

Elsewhere in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Rectanus said English faculty have developed a related grant project to teach creative writing students to manage their own careers. He's working with music faculty to provide more formalized business training to student musicians, too.

Entrepreneurial evolution

Other opportunities for entrepreneurship education continue to emerge in the committee's monthly meetings.

"I'm a resource as needed, but I'm needed less and less because these committee members are good people and they know a lot about entrepreneurship," Van Auken said. "They've evolved in their knowledge as we've gone."

ISU's entrepreneurship initiative is getting noticed off campus as well. Last month, Van Auken, Niehm and Judi Eyles, director of programs and marketing for the Pappajohn Center, addressed the United States Association for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship annual meeting in San Antonio -- the largest annual entrepreneurship and small business conference in the world.

An entrepreneur's story: Have lunch with the "Baked Lays" inventor March 5

ISU faculty and staff can think like entrepreneurs Wednesday, March 5. Jeffrey Stamp -- inventor, creator and brand manager of "Baked Lays" potato chips -- will give a free lunch presentation at 11:45 a.m. in the Memorial Union Sun Room.

Jeffrey Stamp

Stamp's talk, "It Isn't About the Box!" is part of the Reiman Entrepreneur Speaker Series. Stamp earned PepsiCo's Frito Lay division the designation of Ernst & Young's top brand introduction in the 1990s. Baked Lays achieved $230 million in first-year sales.

Through a gift by Roy and Bobbi Reiman, the luncheon is free to the first 150 who register on the ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship Web site.

Now an assistant professor and chair of entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of North Dakota, Stamp also will conduct a faculty workshop, "Creativity and Innovation," from 1 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 6, in the MU South Ballroom. Faculty will learn how it's possible to be creative and innovative in a large university environment, and techniques to teach those skills to their students.

Students are invited to participate in a Wednesday workshop led by Stamp. The workshop, "Tapping Your Creative Genius!" starts at 6 p.m. and will be repeated at 8 p.m., both in 2088 LeBaron.

Faculty and students may register for these workshops on the Pappajohn Center Web site.