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Juniata\'s JCEL Receives Grant to Nurture Entrepreneurial Courses

(Posted September 26, 2005)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The Juniata College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership recently received a $144,000 grant from the Coleman Foundation to incorporate entrepreneurial curriculum into the college's business, science and humanities curriculum.

Juniata is one of just 12 institutions across the country to receive the grant, which will be spread over three years.

"This year we are using the funds to increase the level of hands-on and experiential learning in our business, information technology and communication departments," says Dr. Michael Lehman, director of JCEL. "This year we will be concentrating on five courses: an Entrepreneurial Lab, New Venture Creation, Managing Technologies, Message Analysis and Introduction to IT. We also are bringing in entrepreneurs as speakers and organizing several field trips to entrepreneurial businesses."

Earlier in the summer, funds from the grant allowed four Juniata faculty to develop entrepreneurial content into a variety of courses.

Jim Donaldson, professor and chair of accounting, business and economics, focused on techniques to incorporate lessons from two economic development clusters important to Huntingdon, County: tourism and wood products. "One of the methods to focus student business ideas is to assign essays or business startup idea sessions in the areas of tourism and wood products and extract business opportunities from that," Donaldson explains. Donaldson also has identified several entrepreneurs in the Huntingdon area who have agreed to speak to classes and allow Juniata students to complete projects for their businesses.

"The three-year life of the grant gives us an ongoing opportunity to build up our contacts with local businesses and expand beyond the tourism and wood products cluster.," Donaldson says.

Marlene Burkhardt, associate professor of business and information technology, has incorporated principles from JCEL's other areas of concentration: information technology and life science businesses. In her course, Managing Advanced Technologies, she has incorporated sections on intellectual property law and patent application. In addition, she is basing the entire class structure on starting a single technology business.

"One of the main outcomes will be that students will realize how attainable it is to start a technology company," Burkhardt says.

The college also has incorporated entrepreneurial principles into one of their required courses, Principles of Information Technology, by including examples from entrepreneurial principles in the course sections based on bioinformatics and business.

In the communication department, the course Message Analysis will create a product or service and adapt communication strategies to various audiences.

"As the life of the grant continues in the next three years we will expand entrepreneurial principles into other parts of the academic curriculum," says Lehman.

In addition to the curricular improvements, the grant also provides funding for student summer internships, computer resources and, at the end of the third year, the college will host a "business boot camp" to share strategies for developing entrepreneurship with business faculty from other colleges and universities.

JCEL, which recently received a $200,000 grant to develop a Keystone Innovation Zone (an economic development initiative that uses community and college partnerships to create and grow businesses in zone-specific target industries) also will incorporate collaborations within Juniata's business faculty to create jobs in its target areas: information technology and life science/biotechnology.

Juniata is one of 15 KIZs in Pennsylvania and it is one of a handful that provides sole administrative control over its zone.

"Companies in those industries are poised for high growth within a national or global market," Lehman explains. "While many businesses are viable only in a specific area, startups in IT and life sciences can be created and run anywhere."

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.