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Member News: C.C. Eship / NACCE Journal Fall/Winter 2007

Selling Senior Leadership

Thursday, January 14, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
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By Donna Duffey
Professor and Career Program Facilitator
Marketing & Management/Business Entrepreneurship
Johnson County Community College, KS
Occasionally my colleagues from other community colleges ask me how I was able to "sell” the importance of entrepreneurship education to the senior leadership of my institution. I find that colleagues are often cautious when proposing an additional curriculum or programs, fearing senior leadership resistance because funds, facilities, or human capital are often scarce resources. Others fear the obstacles of institutional and/or state curriculum approval.

While these issues certainly can be obstacles, I believe the creative and innovative minds of community college leaders can more often than not find entrepreneurial solutions when obstacles threaten the pursuit of initiatives that directly support their vision and mission statements. This belief has proven to be correct in my pursuits of entrepreneurship program expansion with the senior leadership at JCCC.

Therefore, the question becomes how entrepreneurship education addresses components of the vision and mission statement of your community college. At Johnson County Community College the vision statement states "The college will continue to enrich the quality of life for those it serves through creative solutions to education, economic, and community challenges.” The mission statement addressing the objective of "learning comes first” identifies the stimulation of economic development resulting from the quality of learning that takes place at JCCC. This concept is not unique to JCCC because when you are asked if the economic vitality of your community is a primary outcome of the quality education initiatives at your community college, you respond affirmatively.

Today it is not just academic leaders but governmental leaders as well who believe America’s community colleges are a critical component of our nation’s higher education system. Imbedded in the vision and mission statements of America’s community colleges is the belief that the economic health of our communities will be enhanced through quality education.

My belief is that entrepreneurship education initiatives are perfectly housed with our nation’s community colleges. At Johnson County Community College, our vision for our entrepreneurship education initiatives is to serve both aspiring and existing entrepreneurs with quality programming in both credit and non-credit formats. Community colleges are committed to lifelong learning. For entrepreneurs, as businesses evolve, they often need long-term support to grow and sustain their businesses. The "support” those entrepreneurs need takes the form of both credit and non-credit programming with the initial training (aspiring entrepreneurs) developed and delivered by the credit division; the long-term support (existing entrepreneurs) developed and delivered by the non-credit division. This team of credit and non-credit thus creates a seamless opportunity for the entrepreneurs of our community to maximize the success of their entrepreneurial venture. Strategically, entrepreneurship education initiatives at JCCC:

Offer credit curriculum to train the student with entrepreneurial goals.

Include skill-specific courses students will need to be successful entrepreneurs and the business acumen necessary to launch, grow, and sustain their entrepreneurial venture.

Upon completion of the credit curriculum, graduates are invited to participate in the services of the Small Business Development Center on campus for ongoing assistance (workshops and one-to-one counseling) needed as they sustain and grow their entrepreneurial venture.

JCCC’s Entrepreneurship program mission is to:

  • Support entrepreneurship education in credit and non-credit formats.
  • Continually seek quality improvement in curriculum, programming and delivery formats.
  • Continually explore and implement initiatives that weave entrepreneurship education throughout the college.
  • Be a metropolitan, state, and national example of successful entrepreneurship education at community colleges.
  • Share learning experiences with other community colleges.

Entrepreneurship initiatives capture student audiences across campus. "Being my own boss” is a goal often expressed to JCCC’s team of academic advisors by incoming students to this institution. To maximize our success we have specifically worked to NOT label entrepreneurship as just a business option, just a credit option, or just a non-credit option for student audiences on this campus but rather to "weave” entrepreneurship throughout our institution. As such, the leadership in multiple areas have been and will continue to be involved in the planning and development of our ever-evolving entrepreneurship programming initiatives.

Who are those senior leaders on your campus that can be of assistance to your entrepreneurship champions? We suggest your Dean of Instruction, Dean of Continuing Education, Dean of Student Services, and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, to name a few. Focusing on your institution’s vision and mission for student success and long-term economic vitality, we are convinced your entrepreneurship champions and your community college’s senior leadership team can develop your formula for success.

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