Center for Entrepreneurship director’s role expanded

By Stephanie Shenouda, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 4, 2013

In an attempt to integrate formal entrepreneurial education into every student’s major, Martha Pollack, University provost and vice president of student affairs, has appointed Engineering Prof. Thomas Zurbuchen as senior advisor for entrepreneurial education to begin immediately, the University announced Monday.

Zurbuchen, who joined the University in 1996, launched the Center for Entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering in 2008 and has helped the center expand its influence and scope over the past five years.

CFE programs are currently available to 90 percent of undergraduate students, but Zurbuchen said in a statement that he believes those efforts can be expanded and improved.

“Our goal is to create the best creativity toolset in the world for students who want to learn how to 'be the difference' anywhere in the world,” Zurbuchen said. “A lot of this, we won't have to build. We just need to bundle. Entrepreneurial activities have grown tremendously here over the past decade. This isn’t a top-down effort. This energy is coming mostly from the bottom up, and that's how revolutions happen.”

Pollack also noted that entrepreneurial education is not as much about creating something new as it is facilitating the collaboration of available resources.

“We see this role as one that not only knits together the University’s existing resources in entrepreneurship education, but also expands them, to offer as many students as possible a chance to develop entrepreneurial skills,” Pollack said in a statement. “This is a step we’re taking for the education of our students, but I see tremendous potential for its effects to ripple through our state and nation.”

Zurbuchen’s main duties will involve constructing an entrepreneurial curriculum that will benefit all 19 schools and colleges, including a minor available to all students in fall 2014. The goal is to increase opportunities for students — especially in the smaller schools and colleges — meshing co-curricular and academic programs.

Today, the University offers more than 40 entrepreneurial programs concentrated within the Business School and the College of Engineering. There are also student-led endeavors, such as MPowered’s 1,000 Pitches program, which attracts thousands of participants every year.

The administration has emphasized entrepreneurship outside of the business and engineering schools this year with the creation of several programs, such as the Law School’s Entrepreneurship Clinic, which advises students in any college about the common start-up legal issues, from intellectual property laws to drafting finance documents.