More than 60 student leaders and members of the University’s entrepreneurial community gathered in the Anderson Room of the Michigan Union to kick-start the creation of a new academic program in entrepreneurship. Representing a diverse selection of schools and colleges, the attendees discussed ways a new program could best benefit the campus community.

In early December, Central Student Government President Michael Proppe and Vice President Bobby Dishell, a Public Policy junior, announced their plans to create a minor in entrepreneurship. While the announcement did not outline the structure of the program, it suggested that the new program would be more expansive than the nine-credit Program in Entrepreneurship currently offered.

“This is something that CSG is really excited about,” Proppe said at the meeting. “The entrepreneurship community really flourishing on campus and what’s really cool about all this is that it’s all being done by students.”

Since the beginning of the academic year, CSG has been pushing increased student input in University administrative decisions through initiatives that include working with the Athletic Department to reframe the football ticketing policy and assembling a student presidential search advisory committee to help ease the transition of University President-elect Mark Schlissel. The new entrepreneurship program would similarly employ a “by-students, for-students” framework, Proppe said.

The new program will be organized under the leadership of Thomas Zurbuchen, senior counselor to the provost for entrepreneurial education, who has been heavily involved with advising former CSG administrations on their entrepreneurial ventures. Zurbuchen said he saw the program as prospectively being the “most important program at the University.”

In his introduction, Zurbuchen tackled the stigma that entrepreneurship was “two guys in a garage” building a tech company. Instead, he said the new program would help the University create an “Entrepreneurship 2.0,” where students would be able to not only create companies, but also tackle some of the most important challenges in life.

Throughout the program’s development, Zurbuchen encouraged students to continually ask “Why not me?” — the slogan currently employed by social innovation-based student organization optiMize.

After a 20-minute introduction by CSG and Zurbuchen, the floor was opened up for discussion and the student attendants discussed the challenges plaguing campus, such as health and wellness on campus, transportation, appreciation for the arts and access to University faculty, as well as the right way to approach campus-wide entrepreneurship.

“I think a lot of people get intimidated because they think of building the next Facebook or the next Snapchat,” Kinesiology senior Ricky Fleming said. “But finding the next biggest thing can even be a small improvement.”

LSA senior Aditi Shetty said she believes that a lot of people have ideas, but are unaware of how entrepreneurship can help them.

“I think the language that we use is really important — how do we define entrepreneurship and how do we make it more inclusive?” she said.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Zurbuchen will appoint a group of student advisers from those who were present at the event to serve as a “think tank” to help create the new program.

“I want to build a program that is the most needed and is one that can really have the most impact on the world,” he said. “For me, building this program is an entrepreneurship problem in itself.”

Zurbuchen added that he has a clear goal, regardless of the shape that the program ends up taking.

“Entrepreneurship is very much linked to what you need to take home today and what I hope will be the key word that will define Michigan entrepreneurship — action. We want to empower you to act.”

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