Last week 90 Coleman Fellows gathered at a conference hotel near O’Hare Airport for the 2016 Coleman Fellows Summit. This was my fourth year attending [reports for 2013, 2014, 2015] but this summit was different. Usually the majority of attendees are new fellows, recruited to add entrepreneurship elements into an existing, non-business school class (or create a cross-listed class from scratch, as I did).
This year, however, there was a smaller group of new fellows joining a larger group of campus directors and veteran fellows, plus a new group: the first Coleman “Entrepreneurship in Residence” cohort. Their participation reflects a new strategic shift in how the Coleman Foundation is promoting cross-campus entrepreneurship. Rather than a continued focus on funding ongoing and new cross-campus classes, the foundation now expects the campuses to fund those classes themselves. A new focus features the Entrepreneurship in Residence as local entrepreneurs who will be providing teaching, consulting, and general support to many classes each semester. A second new focus is assessing the value and impact of the Coleman Fellows program. These changes are responses to the Coleman Foundation board’s concerns about the sustainability of the fellows program.
The residents program reminds me, frankly, of us business librarians. We are also nontraditional faculty charged with serving the needs of entrepreneurship students and classes across campus, which we do as guest teachers and research consultants. Outreach strategies for the residents are similar to our own outreach strategies I think. However, the residents’ focus will be only on entrepreneurship education. Tech transfer is not included in their charge.
The UNCG Entrepreneurship in Residence is my friend Noah Reynolds, an amazing guy who is a CPA, has started a number of businesses, serves on several corporate and foundation boards, and also teaches ENT 300 each spring. Noah and UNCG Geography Professor Keith Debbage hit it off right away by discussing mutual economic development interests in our “Triad” region of North Carolina. Also with Hospitality and Tourism Management Professor Bonnie Canziani.
We spent all of Friday morning working in small groups on assessment, developing rubrics and assessment methodology. Joe Roberts, the national Coleman Fellows coordinator, asked me to facilitate the small group on the so-called “infusion model”, Coleman’s term for adding entrepreneurship to existing non-business classes. A dozen profs and I proposed some pretty significant changes to the set of draft rubrics for our topic, but were energized by the great discussions we had. So our several hours before lunch together talking about assessment (not a topic that normally interests me much) went by fast.
After lunch, veteran fellows Julie Shields (Millikin University), Chris Broberg (Wichita State) and I led two hours of discussion with 35 or so veteran follows. We had the folks form small discussion teams around topics of high interest (we began with a post-in note poll) and then report back in the final 30 minutes. A lot of the ideas were pretty specific to the fellows program, but one professor mentioned working more with librarians at conferences (!). There was also a series of recommendations about fellows connecting by visiting neighboring campuses, and having mentors from the same subject disciplines (like an arts prof mentoring newer art Coleman Fellows at other campuses).
So this summit didn’t have a focus on Entrepreneurship 101-type training this time, and therefore I didn’t do an “introduction to entrepreneurship research” type workshop. We did have one short big group discussion Thursday evening about data mapping tools, and I piped up to check with your library to see if you have access to tools like SimplyMap (and later posted a new SimplyMap screencast video to the fellows’ newsfeed).
But I was pretty involved wearing my assistant director’s hat, under the excellent leadership of Professor Dianne Welsh, the UNCG Coleman Fellows director. As the only librarian fellow, I noticed I was more likely to be named as “Steve the Librarian,” as opposed to “Steve from UNCG”.
Finally, there was some unusual service provided. A fellow had a zipper problem in the bathroom during a morning break and asked me if I could loan him a pair of pants. (He had only brought one pair for the 3-day summit.) We had a similar height and shape, so I said sure. I got those dress pants back (freshly washed and pressed, and with the button that came off on Saturday restored) on Monday. That was funny.