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Identifying & Supporting Your On-campus Champion of Entrepreneurship
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Identifying & supporting on-campus champion of entrepreneurship

By Ron Thomas

President, Dakota Technical Community College

  1. Why is it so critical to have an enthusiastic champion to lead the charge when bringing entrepreneurship education/services to a community college campus?
    1. The champion brings focus to the e-ship initiative. Without a concentrated effort, the initiative will flounder and fizzle out.
    2. The champion shines as the guide, or lodestar, of the e-ship initiative. Without a viable, relevant, recognizable direction, the initiative will wobble and stumble off course.
    3. The champion functions as the engine of the e-ship initiative. Without a driving force, the initiative will stall and go nowhere.
    4. The champion operates as the unifying steward of the e-ship initiative. Without a rallying point, the initiative will discourage proponents as well as participants and stagnate.
    5. The champion serves as the visionary of the e-ship initiative. Without intuition and farsightedness, the initiative will miss its mark and lack long-term impact.
    6. The champion is the entrepreneurial gold mine of the e-ship initiative. Without a wealth of e-ship experience, know-how and moxie, the initiative will lack authenticity and make superficial headway.

  1. What are some of the characteristics that someone filling this role should have? In other words, what should presidents be looking for?
    1. The champion must be a natural entrepreneur prospering in the business world and academia.
    2. The champion must be a recognized, trusted, contributing and influential member of the college and area communities.
    3. The champion must have a knack for collaboration and bringing people together in a common pursuit.
    4. The champion must retain clarity and purpose when confronted by ambiguous circumstances that inevitably ensue when business and higher education collide.
    5. The champion must be a seasoned communicator with a talent for both articulating concepts and selling the outcomes.
    6. The champion must adapt, improvise and overcome in the space of turbulence and adversity.
    7. The champion must be the e-ship initiative's wisest, strongest and most persuasive booster.
    8. The champion must demonstrate distinct, measureable wins early and often.
    9. The champion must engage the e-ship advisory board in essential tasks with definitive, satisfying and valuable results.

  1. Once a champion is in place, what does a president need to do to help assure his/her success?
    1. The president must be the champion's visible and active partner in the e-ship initiative to provide impetus and credibility.
    2. The president must supply funding commensurate with the goals of the e-ship initiative.
    3. The president must strive to garner additional funding, including venture capital, from external sources to support entrepreneurs and e-ship education.
    4. The president must work to raise awareness, understanding and buy-in throughout the campus community ¾ students, staff and faculty ¾ regarding the tremendous social and economic benefits derived from entrepreneurs and their business endeavors along with the critical role e-ship education fills in the process.
    5. The president must go farther and embed e-ship principles and practices across the board in campus culture, from academic programs to operations to business office functions to student services to community engagement.

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