We’re shaking things up this week by sharing the January issue of Connections on a Friday! AJCU Higher Ed News will return with a new issue on Friday, February 5. Many events commemorating Black History Month and Ignatian Heritage Weeks will be taking place across the AJCU network between now and then; please click here for a full listing.

Please contact AJCU’s Vice President of Communications, Deanna Howes Spiro, with any questions: dhowes@ajcunet.edu.

By Peter Tormey, Ph.D., Associate Director of Public Relations, Gonzaga University

Image of ISE courtesy of Gonzaga University

Image of ISE courtesy of Gonzaga University

After more than two decades spent developing leaders through the Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program, Gonzaga University is now doubling down on preparing innovators in business, engineering and science with a $49.7M investment in an Integrated Science and Engineering (ISE) facility opening later this year.

Heralding a new era of expansion in STEM-related educational and interdisciplinary collaboration, the facility will foster innovation, exemplary teaching and undergraduate research — enabling faculty and students to conduct important theoretical and applied work.

Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh, D.Phil., said that ISE will allow Gonzaga to do its “best possible work at preparing our students to be competitive, innovative and creative in the collaborative fields of science and technology, engineering and mathematics, but also in related areas where interdisciplinary studies become possible.”

In a visual statement to interdisciplinarity, skybridges will connect ISE with Gonzaga’s PACCAR Center for Applied Science and to the College of Arts and Sciences’ chemistry and biology departments located in Hughes Hall. The PACCAR Center itself is connected via skybridge to the Herak Center for Engineering.

“Together, ISE’s benefactors and Gonzaga’s faculty, senior leaders and students bring intellectual commitments to serve our educational mission, preparing our graduates for lives of leadership and service for the common good,” said Deena J. González, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president.

The facility will allow Gonzaga to better serve its growing student body in the STEM fields, make students more competitive globally, and equip them with the research skills and experiences needed to explore solutions to real-world problems. Karlene Hoo, Ph.D., dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, explained, “The ISE facility provides the space to allow for a modern multidisciplinary curriculum to be implemented that can address the myriad global challenges posed by the water-food-energy-planet nexus.”

At present, engineering students gain innovation and entrepreneurship skills through team-based Senior Design projects, working with a faculty advisor and external sponsor to develop innovative designs and prototypes. Both Hoo and Annmarie Caño, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, noted that ISE will provide critical space for existing projects, expand the scope of projects for undergraduates, and promote untapped areas of bioengineering programs with components of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Helen Xun (’15), a biochemistry alumna mentored by Gonzaga’s chair of the chemistry and biochemistry department, is but one example of the power of faculty-led innovation. Now a student at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Xun has taken this year off to co-found a biotech start-up to prototype medical devices.

A Profusion of Innovation
A profusion of innovation is advancing science education at Gonzaga, while serving community and global needs. For example: last fall, the University of Washington School of Medicine-Gonzaga University Health Partnership announced a new center for medical education, health sciences and innovation.

Gonzaga’s success in interdisciplinary collaboration is evidenced by multiple initiatives and achievements, including a recent $267,000 National Science Foundation grant to purchase an ultra-modern atomic force microscope (AFM), which will provide students and faculty in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the College of Arts and Sciences with a tool for collaborative transformational nanoscience research.

The Center for Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry, launched by Gonzaga’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2016, facilitates transformative educational experiences through student-faculty collaborations. Directed by chemistry professor Matt Cremeens, Ph.D., the Center fosters multi-institutional collaboration via Cremeens’ research lab in science including work relevant to the pharmaceutical industry.

A Foundation for Entrepreneurial Education
The roots of Gonzaga’s growth in innovation and entrepreneurship link to 2000, when a gift from entrepreneurs Ed and Lynn Hogan funded the Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program. The program, a three-year undergraduate minor, is open to students majoring in any academic discipline, including business, engineering, computer science, natural sciences, math, education and liberal arts. It has since become one of America’s best programs to spawn entrepreneurial leaders.

Dan Stewart, Ph.D., professor of entrepreneurship and director of the Hogan Program, explains that it aims to make students more entrepreneurial. “We want our students to leave with an understanding of the innovation process and how to lead others through the process of creating new ventures in all types of organizations, regardless of their chosen vocation,” Stewart said. “Thus, the emphasis is not on joining or founding a startup business, but becoming a change leader in whatever field the student chooses to pursue.”

In 2001, with support from the Johnson Scholarship Foundation, Gonzaga created the MBA in American Indian Entrepreneurship program, whose graduates have made a big difference in their communities. Indeed, many alumni have noted that the Hogan program planted the seed that inspired them to become entrepreneurs or to follow a more entrepreneurial career path.

In 2002, Gonzaga established the three-year Comprehensive Leadership Program: a minor open to all majors and designed to develop knowledge and skills to lead. Nine years later, Gonzaga launched a concentration in entrepreneurship and innovation for business students, followed in 2013, by a minor in entrepreneurship and innovation open to all non-business majors.

Todd Finkle, Ph.D., the Pigott Professor of Entrepreneurship at Gonzaga and founder-director of the entrepreneurship and innovation program, emphasized the many experiential aspects of the entrepreneurship programs that are vital to their success. “In my opinion, the best way to learn entrepreneurship is by doing it. My philosophy is to focus on the students and their needs, find out ahead of time what their needs are, and try to provide that to them,” said Finkle, who is part of the Gonzaga team ranked as the 37th best undergraduate Entrepreneurship Program in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report rankings.

Gonzaga’s approach to entrepreneurship works.

One of Finkle’s students, Richard Kennedy, a senior, founded the real estate company ModRE in 2019. This year, Kennedy has worked on the modular apartment business in one of Finkle’s courses. “He has raised $1.8 million, purchased land, and is waiting for approval from the city of Spokane to build,” Finkle said. “He has already raised money for the next apartment building and is searching for land.”

Ken Anderson, dean of the School of Business Administration, said, “Entrepreneurship and innovation are central to what we do as a business school. Our values of excellence, engagement, and inspiration directly and indirectly foster our commitment in these areas.”

By Meredith Fidrocki, Newsroom Contributor, College of the Holy Cross

Photo courtesy of the College of the Holy Cross

Photo courtesy of the College of the Holy Cross

When Ja-Naé Duane introduces entrepreneurship to students at the College of the Holy Cross, she doesn’t start by talking about business ideas, product development or marketing strategy. Rather, she tells students: “Pick a problem.”

As head of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program within the Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society at Holy Cross, Duane encourages students to work on solutions only after they’ve wrestled with complex, global problems. For example: “Why don’t we have fresh water in all parts of the world? And what are the potential causes for the water wars that have started to exist?”

Duane, an entrepreneur herself, explains: “A true ethical leader needs to look at all sides and as many perspectives as possible in order to build something that is not only sustainable, but is also sustainably good for humanity.”

The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program is one of many initiatives within the Ciocca Center, which combines the power of a liberal arts education with experiential learning to shape the next generation of ethical leaders and critical thinkers — and has offerings open to students from all class years and majors.

One way students are getting that hands-on entrepreneurial experience is by running their own incubator, HC Launch. Using a holistic approach, the incubator focuses on bringing students’ business ideas to life.

Tom Cremins ’21, an economics major with an education minor, is a co-managing director of HC Launch, which he first got involved with during his sophomore year. “I was able to join a business with a team of four students looking to create a mobile app that aimed to make mental health resources more accessible to college students,” shares Cremins, who says participating in the program has shown him firsthand the importance of being a self-starter.

Duane, who advises the group, encourages students to consider how they can be servant leaders, a term for those who lead by putting others first. She sees the approach as one way to integrate the broader Jesuit mission of the College.

“We teach skills like resilience, grit, creativity and adaptability,” explains HC Launch Co-Managing Director Mary Anne Wiley ’22 of the incubator’s objectives. An economics major on the pre-dental track, Wiley notes this skill set is useful no matter what career paths students follow: “It’s not just specific to business. You can take this to healthcare, to the sports world — literally anything.”

Wiley says that despite following a virtual format due to the pandemic, HC Launch has seen a great turnout for the fall semester, including the most female members in its history. “It’s just really exciting to be part of a time where I have the opportunity to guide female students to turn their creative business ideas into ventures,” she shares.

Throughout the fall, students from HC Launch and Duane’s Entrepreneurship course developed their own business concepts — many of which responded to challenges students have observed during the pandemic.

“We have a team focused on making scientific articles easier to read and mitigating some of the misinformation that seems to occur when these studies are used within the news,” Duane says.

Another team, concerned with the environmental impact of single-use face masks, is developing and testing a biodegradable mask. And one group is working on an app to help athletics teams stay connected to teammates and coaches while training remotely.

Dozens of alumni — with expertise in such areas as startup financials and building a sustainable product — met with the students virtually to give them feedback on their business ideas. “It’s been such a great experience to hear from all the alums,” shares psychology major John Bowen ’22, who has been running his own businesses since starting a snow removal service at age 12. He says he values getting real-world feedback from experts working across so many different sectors: “It’s cool to hear from all sides of the spectrum.”

Although students do sometimes turn their business ideas into ventures, Duane says what she most cares about is the innovative, problem-solving mindset students acquire through the process: “It’s about taking these skills to figure out how we can create a world that we want to live in.”

And for the last two years, students have been doing just that through the Innovation Challenge — a competition, co-sponsored by HC Launch and other College departments and programs, where teams race to solve an issue on campus.

“In October, we had our first virtual Innovation Challenge,” Wiley says. Six teams had 24 hours to propose a solution to a problem related to sustainability. This year’s winning team presented a plan for implementing composting stations around campus. “It was great,” reports Wiley, who says the event gave students an important opportunity to apply skills, propose changes and improve their own community.

Wiley says that combining a liberal arts education with experiential learning opportunities has helped her think outside the box: “I think I have a stronger sense of critical thinking, and it pushes me to be creative in different ways when I’m expressing an argument in a paper.”

When Cremins graduates, he says his biggest takeaways from the program will be to focus on problems before solutions and to lead with empathy: “In order to be a leader who’s going to create positive change in the world — whether it be through some sort of business or just through any profession or passion that you have — you have to be able to have empathy for others and be able to understand what others go through and the problems that they face.”

Duane views innovative thinking as a powerful tool for fueling positive societal change. “It is through entrepreneurship that we’re really going to be able to solve for some of the world’s biggest problems,” she says. “And we need to make sure as many people as possible have these skills.”

By Deborah Lohse, Associate Director, Media & Internal Communications, Santa Clara University

Mariah Manzano (photo courtesy of Santa Clara University)

Mariah Manzano (photo courtesy of Santa Clara University)

From the moment she arrived at Santa Clara University (SCU) in 2016, Mariah Manzano wanted to learn about entrepreneurship. She saw her mom, who owns a data-analyst recruitment business, charting her own career course with creative control and flexible work hours, and wanted that for herself.

Luckily, there were plenty of outlets for Manzano, even with the rigorous course schedule required for her majors: web design and engineering. For starters, she took a string of 1-unit entrepreneurial courses at the School of Engineering, which were created with funding from the national Keen Entrepreneurship Education Network.

Through a class in intellectual property, Manzano learned about a free non-credit course called the Bronco Venture Accelerator (BVA) Prep School. For several months, she and 30 other like-minded SCU students shared ideas and strategies for moving their business ideas to the next level. That experience helped Manzano minor in entrepreneurship and get into the more-intensive, five-month Bronco Venture Accelerator, where she started a platform called Opal to help students find mentors to build out their business and skills network.

After graduation, Manzano went to work at Cisco as a software engineer. Her interviewers were impressed by the training in design-thinking and user experience she received at SCU, and have given her design projects outside of her traditional duties. She plans to launch Opal next year, aided by some 40 student volunteers who signed on to help, and about 300 SCU alumni and others who agreed to join the mentor network.

The Opal collaboration “gave a lot of people an opportunity to learn and grow,” and add to their own resumes, said Manzano. “The best projects come out of diverse minds.”

Manzano is a classic example of one of Santa Clara’s key strategic goals: ensuring that no matter their major, no matter their passion, all SCU students will be exposed to the ethos of entrepreneurship and innovation, and find support for their own startup aspirations if they choose.

“Our mission is to instill an entrepreneurial mindset in all students,” said Chris Norris, who runs the Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which was created two years ago to be a campus hub and elevate interdisciplinary offerings across campus.

“The basic skills of entrepreneurship are life skills,” said Norris. “Empathy (understanding the situation you’re involved in or the problem you’re trying to solve); seeing problems as opportunities; an ability to deal with risk; and, finally, asking yourself, does everything you’re doing make a difference? All life skills.”

To infuse that agenda across more disciplines at SCU, Ciocca Center is working on several initiatives:

  1. Investing in faculty development, research, course development and other academic offerings, such as those Manzano took.

  2. Increasing interdisciplinary programs that work well in one school and expanding them to others, such as the innovation-focused Maker Lab.

  3. Creating entrepreneurship-focused clinics across campus, similar to SCU’s Entrepreneurship Law Clinic, where supervised students provide advice to startup founders. (In 2021, Ciocca Center will offer a business clinic staffed by entrepreneurship students helping alumni or early-stage founders with business problems.)

  4. Finding ways to adapt non-entrepreneurship classes (such as English courses on the use of the letter press) to be part of the entrepreneurship minor. (This will make it easier for a wider range of students to achieve the minor, and ensure cross-disciplinary exposure for those in the program.)

Santa Clara is already rich in resources, opportunities, and an alumni network steeped in entrepreneurship. For example: providing mentorship, training, and support for social entrepreneurs has long been the mission of SCU’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Since its founding 24 years ago, Miller Center’s numerous accelerator programs have worked with leaders of more than 1,125 social enterprises around the world, improving the lives of 450 million people, and helping the organizations raise some $750 million. More than 140 students have conducted rigorous action research for the organizations as student fellows.

One of Ciocca Center’s signature programs, the Bronco Venture Accelerator, is also starting to gain traction. Among the twelve companies that went through the inaugural program in 2019-20, five received venture funding; one was accepted into Silicon Valley’s prestigious Y Combinator accelerator program; and one was acquired by another company.

“When you’re excited and passionate about an idea and someone nods their head, says ‘yes,’ expands their network or resources, tells you that you should apply for this prep course, and here’s someone you should talk to—they validate your idea,” said Manzano. “With every new conversation, my confidence increased.”

Ciocca Center continues to be guided by three overarching values: maintaining Jesuit ideals; offering students opportunities to learn and incorporate a responsible entrepreneurial mindset; and a deep commitment to experiential learning.

“Santa Clara University resides in the most creative, inventive, wealth-creating region on the planet,” said Norris. “It is a powerful thing to see our students learn innovation and entrepreneurship here, shaped and guided by Jesuit values to care for others.”

Contributed by Phil Gloudemans, Associate Director of the Office of University Communications, Boston College


When the coronavirus pandemic required that Boston College’s (BC) annual spring “Demo Day,” (an event for undergraduate student founders to pitch their proposed start-up companies before a live audience), move online, its student participants demonstrated adaptability and resilience: essential qualities of entrepreneurs.

“I was so impressed with the creativity and flexibility of our student entrepreneurs throughout the nine-week program preceding and including Demo Day,” said Jere Doyle, the Popolo Family Executive Director of the Edmund H. Shea, Jr. Center for Entrepreneurship, housed at BC’s Carroll School of Management. “To finish with such an extraordinary virtual event in such unprecedented times is amazing. It shows the true spirit of Boston College and entrepreneurship.”

Demo Day’s promising entrepreneurs were participants in Accelerate@Shea, a program devised by the student-run organization, Start@Shea, which provides startup initiators with expert advice, space and funding to launch and grow their businesses. Led by Shea Center Assistant Director Kelsey Renda, and Duncan Walker, Shea’s entrepreneur-in-residence, the weekly workshops feature accomplished startup founders who guide teams through researching unmet business opportunities, to design-thinking, to fundraising. The program, which supplies $1,500 to help each team overcome any initial financial barriers, also matches them with Start@Shea’s wide network of mentors.

Manyaqi Wang, a 2020 graduate of BC’s Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, was one of last spring’s Demo Day presenters. A philosophy major, her source for inspiration was her five-foot-four-inch mother—a “business woman who sacrifices comfort for confidence on a daily basis,” resulting from slacks that are either too long or too short, as she transitions from flats to heels at the beginning or end of the day.

“She’s not alone,” claimed Wang, who interviewed 50 working women and found that 40 of them considered their work slacks constrictive. She saw a need and founded Phoebe Jon, “a female work-wear brand that takes the work out of dressing for work.” Wang’s first product features slacks with adjustable hems to accommodate different heel heights. She has plans to launch her company with a focus on comfortable, versatile and practical business fashion options for women.

Wang’s presentation was one of 11 two-minute video pitches packaged within an hour-long student-produced production that featured a variety of innovative solutions, from a better bug spray to fractional bond investing. The YouTube livestreamed compilation, completed in less than a month, overcame an eight-time-zone difference, as the video’s student “hosts,” faculty, mentors and guests were dispersed worldwide following the BC’s closure last spring.

“We strive to integrate entrepreneurial thinking into the educational and formational experience of undergraduate and graduate students through rigorous academic coursework, co-curricular activities, and experiential opportunities,” said Doyle, a 1987 BC alum. “We also serve as the University-wide focal point for interdisciplinary entrepreneurship initiatives and research, while providing students with the foundational skills and entrepreneurial experience that prepares them to start their own ventures, launch careers at start-ups and small businesses, or follow career paths in a traditional management discipline where entrepreneurship will be important.”

A prime example of BC’s experiential learning, says Doyle, is TechTrek: an undergraduate course combining classroom learning with visits to innovation hubs such as Silicon Valley, New York City and Boston. The courses involve 25 master-class sessions with senior executives, entrepreneurs, and venture partners at such technology companies as Apple and Airbnb. Students learn about tech industry strategy, competition and venture finance, and track how firms rise from startup to blue-chip.

To complement the “treks,” the Shea Center invites a Boston-area entrepreneur to campus each week to share their business launch story (now conducted virtually)—an ideal opportunity for students to make connections with a successful businessperson, and to learn from a veteran who has experienced both the failures and successes of launching a company. The Center also hosts an annual Startup & Entrepreneurship Fair, where more than 50 local, early-stage companies seeking interns or full- or part-time staff can recruit BC students.

Doyle, an entrepreneur who built two companies into profitable and sustainable industry leaders, cites the “Elevator Pitch” and the Strakosch Venture Competition (SVC) as two annual BC contests that thrust students into the reality of entrepreneurship. The Elevator Pitch challenges teams to present a 60-second description of their new-business idea before a panel of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, with cash prizes awarded to the winners. The SVC is a University-wide business plan competition, in which student teams – supported by mentors – develop a roadmap for a new venture. Finalists present their plans to a panel of executives and entrepreneurial experts, and the top three teams win cash.

“We also stage events throughout the academic year that demonstrate that you don’t need to be a business major to launch and run a successful business,” says Doyle. “Everyone has the potential to be an entrepreneur and we want to help make it happen.”

By Tracy Couto, Director of Le Moyne College’s Savage-McGill Center for Reflective Leadership (home to IgnitEd and the Global Jesuit Case Series)


Inside the hallways of the nearly 200 Jesuit colleges and universities across the world, thousands of faculty and students collectively elevate our shared mission and values through their daily interactions. Energizing this community are faculty who embody a true entrepreneurial spirit. They tirelessly adapt their pedagogical approach by teaching and inspiring students to become future managers and leaders in service to both business and society.

While institutions outside of the Jesuit system often pigeonhole the humanities and ethics into the halls of the liberal arts, Jesuit institutions prioritize and integrate transdisciplinary thinking and teaching, bringing an appreciation of history, philosophy and other humanistic disciplines into the core of business education. In Jesuit business schools, it takes but little effort to find a classroom full of discussion on the moral implications of artificial intelligence, or a more humanistic approach to leading and managing others, while at the same time, adhering to the management discipline-specific rigor that the business world expects from our graduates.

At their best, Jesuit business schools embody the innovative spirit of their faculty. Faculty revisit their professional methods and solutions several times per year; invent new strategies; and experiment with new tools and techniques, all in the spirit of generating new knowledge or making a longer-lasting meaningful impact on their students. Our faculty’s pioneering approach to education fuels our institutions’ renowned reputations as embodying excellence in teaching and formation. This community of diverse faculty, animated by Jesuit values, offers an opportunity to shape a powerful response to the many complex problems of the 21st century.

Igniting our “Entrepreneurial” Faculty: Shaping a Force Multiplier Effect
In 2015, a group of entrepreneurial faculty at Le Moyne College teamed up with the newly-named Dean of the Madden School of Business to launch the Global Jesuit Case Series (GJCS): a values-based response to traditional teaching case studies. Formed in partnership with the nearly 200 Jesuit colleges and universities across the world, GJCS is a series of business and social policy case studies that embody the values of social justice, human dignity, moral leadership, and sustainability, while concurrently fostering organizational innovation and profitability.

The GJCS welcomes established case writers from Jesuit institutions and beyond to submit to its peer-reviewed outlet with both typical text-based cases, as well as new formats that incorporate video and audio to enrich the students’ experience. What emerges are transdisciplinary case studies written by business professors, ethicists, and others within the liberal arts that challenge students to approach business problems in a holistic manner.

Combining Technology and Community: A Catalyst for Values-Based Education
Eighteen months after the GJCS launched, a new sharing platform, IgnitEd.global, went live. With a primary focus on connecting, supporting, and empowering business school faculty in juggling the many demands of academia, IgnitEd serves as a hub for scholars, journals, and mission-aligned organizations. Members of IgnitEd have access to a deep treasure chest of teaching resources and can share their own work for the benefit of other like-minded scholars.

When faculty contribute their (and their institutions’) most successful teaching-related material, such as course designs, cases or problem sets, their own scholarly contributions are noted when used by business school professors around the world. In short, IgnitEd is about taking the best ideas – codified in the form of cases, articles, and other pedagogical tools – and having them shared and used globally. With more and more entrepreneurial faculty joining this community of scholars, they gain (with their schools) important external recognition (so valued by accreditation bodies) and benefit from the collective work of others around the world.

Four years since its launch, IgnitEd.global is a growing hotbed of material used by thousands of faculty, motivated by values-based impact across a wide swathe of communities, including the International Association of Jesuit Business Schools, Colleagues in Jesuit Business Education, the International Humanistic Management Association, and the Society for Case Research. Users can also access journals and conferences, and connect with other members: this consortium makes it easy for faculty to find new outlets for publishing and connecting.

New initiatives are underway to activate our entrepreneurial faculty. In 2021 and beyond, IgnitEd will support the creation and dissemination of innovative and effective pedagogical resources related to the ‘Inspirational Paradigm in Jesuit Business Education.’ This initiative was spearheaded by Jesuit business school deans from all corners of the globe, to further inspire business students to look to business as a way to solve many of the most troubling issues of the world, and promote a more equal and just tomorrow. Faculty from Jesuit business schools are invited to apply for funding up to $20,000 to develop cutting-edge materials for broad use in our network and beyond. For more information, please click here.

This community of entrepreneurial scholars is well on its way toward IgnitEd’s vision of changing the world through better business education, and connecting and igniting faculty from all Jesuit institutions across the globe. IgnitEd is one resource that is helping make Jesuit education happen in ways bigger and bolder than before.

Contributed by Molly Robey, Assistant Director of Communication, Loyola University Maryland

Photo contributed by Loyola University Maryland

Photo contributed by Loyola University Maryland

Each semester, in the first weeks of his ‘Design Thinking’ course at Loyola University Maryland, Dr. William Romani invites students to participate in personal reflection.

“They have to identify what they value and where those values come from,” he said. “Then they need to be able to clearly say what their intentions are and what they stand for. When you do that, you are able to identify people who feel the same way that you do. Then, you can collaborate and find solutions for things that you care about—and work together to find a solution that meets a challenge you have chosen.”

By beginning the conversation with reflection, students are better poised to research the topic with an energy, focus and interest that allows them to identify possible solutions for partner stakeholders. “The entire process is feedback, reflection and discernment,” Romani explained. “The design thinking process fits really well with Jesuit values.”

Cultivating Innovators
That Jesuit approach is infused throughout Loyola’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CI&E), which was founded in 2018 to help students become innovators and future entrepreneurs.

“Health and technology are fields that are predicated on innovation, but in all business arenas, it’s now understood that teams need innovators who can operate like entrepreneurs within companies, or start new ones in order to move quickly to solve emerging problems,” said Wendy Bolger, director of the CI&E. “As with the Jesuits, successful students will learn flexibility and resilience—to live with ‘one foot raised’—ready to meet societal and economic demands.”

Romani, who teaches the aforementioned Design Thinking class, is the inaugural entrepreneur-in-residence of CI&E. He decided that the right approach for last semester (which was entirely virtual) would be having his students focus on issues within the University. He reached out to chairs, directors and centers across campus, who eagerly brought forward challenges that student teams could explore.

“I asked them what types of pressing problems they were addressing that our students might be able to help with through the use of Human-Centered Design,” Romani said. “We got back a pretty impressive list of challenges, and our students took on seven of them—the most we’ve ever addressed in the course.”

The student groups explored such topics as Loyola’s diversity requirement; how to create a STEM experience that recruits and retains a diverse student body; how to collect information from students for the University’s archives; and how to increase the number of students using the Writing Center.

Carolyn Thaney, a junior majoring in communications with a minor in social innovation and entrepreneurship, was drawn to the question of how Loyola could raise awareness of its diversity course requirement, which was designed to help students understand the importance of exploring and applying behaviors that promote diversity, justice and anti-oppression. Her group conducted research and focused on bringing a fresh perspective and possible changes to help address the concern.

“I think it’s great that my group’s work could potentially encourage students to take advantage of an opportunity that Loyola provides them,” said Thaney, a resident of Rochester, NY. “Changing the narrative of the diversity requirement is really exciting for me.”

Photo contributed by Loyola University Maryland

Photo contributed by Loyola University Maryland

Furthering Innovation and Business
The impact of the CI&E can be felt in many ways. Loyola participates in Stanford University’s University Innovation Fellows (UIF) program, through which faculty challenge a select group of students with bringing innovative ideas to their university to help foster problem-solving and innovation through design-thinking.

This year, Loyola’s UIF fellows are working to develop a Near-Peer Mentorship Program for Underrepresented Students in STEM that will pair first-year or sophomore students as mentees, with a junior or a senior student as mentors. The mentors will help mentees navigate through issues such as course selection, accessing resources, and getting an introduction to conducting research, which have shown to disproportionally challenge students of color in STEM.

“The fifth cohort of the University Innovation Fellows at Loyola has demonstrated their ability to be agile and nimble while being away from our beautiful campus at this time,” said Roughani. “Our UIFs have demonstrated their leadership and ability to be agents of change by moving their project forward, despite pandemic challenges.”

At Loyola and Beyond
In addition to helping students develop an innovative mindset within the Loyola community, the CI&E’s mission off-campus is to be a part of transforming Baltimore through wealth and job creation among women entrepreneurs and founders of color across the city.

To further its investment in innovation and entrepreneurship among students, Loyola will co-host—with the University of Baltimore—Leading with Entrepreneurship: Succeeding in Revitalization, a global conference on October 13-16, 2021. During this conference, Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Center members will share success stories in entrepreneurship and innovation education in pursuit of revitalization.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Loyola’s CI&E has assisted small businesses with mentorship and consultation in a time of great uncertainty through the Crisis Navigators program. Crisis Navigators is an emergency pro-bono consulting resource designed to specifically help Baltimore City-based businesses navigate the crisis.

“We talked to such a diverse pool of businesses that are connected in their need to pivot to respond to Covid-19, and their commitment to their employees and customers,” said Bolger. “At Loyola, we have an amazing network of faculty, alumni, and others who are eager to share their expertise in a way that is impactful to the community.”

Contributed by Lauren Sieben for Marquette University


Like many college students, Kristen Carter is on TikTok.

But Carter’s presence on the fast-paced social media platform isn’t just a pastime or play to become an influencer—it’s a crucial marketing tool for the business the Marquette University senior launched during the pandemic. Now, she’s tapping into its resources for student entrepreneurs.

Last October, Carter launched the first product under her newly-formed LLC. The Krisband (a wristband that dispenses hand sanitizer on-the-go) is benefitting from demonstrations and promotions on TikTok: in just a few weeks, one of her first posts generated more than 50,000 views. “From there, I was getting orders from all across the country,” says Carter, an advertising major. “It was crazy.”

Before she became the owner and CEO of Carter Health & Wellness, Carter grew up in the Chicago suburbs, where she watched her parents run a successful home care business. In 2016, her mother passed away and her father stepped aside from the business. Carter knew that eventually, she “wanted to continue that legacy” and become an entrepreneur like her parents.

But she wasn’t sure she could pull it off. “I thought it was something where I wasn’t good enough or smart enough or capable enough,” Carter explains. “Entrepreneurship really wasn’t on the tip of my mind until I came to Marquette and got involved with the 707 Hub.”

The 707 Hub is a campus space that fosters collaboration and innovation among students across colleges, while offering resources for aspiring entrepreneurs. Carter’s first encounter with the 707 Hub came as a sophomore, when she started interning for the Women’s Innovation Network (WIN), a program housed in the same space as the Hub.

“I worked there every day, and [found that] just being in that space of entrepreneurs and young people starting up their own businesses, there were so many resources,” she says. “Constantly being in that space made me think that maybe I could do entrepreneurship.”

The 707 Hub opened in 2017, in the welcoming ground-floor space of a renovated office building on the eastern edge of campus, near downtown Milwaukee. The idea was born from a student proposal for a space that would encourage collaboration between students across majors and provide on-site resources to help turn ideas into ventures.

“I think there is still this underlying notion that entrepreneurship is only for certain majors, and we’ve worked really hard to dispel that myth,” says Kelsey Otero, associate director of social innovation at the 707 Hub. “We’ve been able to create a space where there are these natural collisions and cross-disciplinary work occurring . It’s not uncommon to have a communications major, a business major and an engineering major working in the space together.”

The 707 Hub hosts speakers, networking events, a pitch competition, and a student-run venture capital firm called the Dorm Fund, through which student associates hear pitches from their peers and dole out investments of up to $2,500 per business idea. During the pandemic, the 707 Hub has mostly pivoted to virtual programming. When students can convene in person, the building’s unfinished open ceilings and concrete floors invoke a casual start-up vibe, with student art decorating the walls of conference rooms that students can reserve for presentations and meetings.

Before launching her business, Carter took advantage of the 707 Hub’s bootcamp, which offers a crash course in topics like creating a business model canvas, financial modeling and prototyping. When Carter became an intern for the Hub’s WIN program, staff members nudged her to explore her entrepreneurial interests. Her ambition and creativity were obvious; she just needed to start working through her ideas.

So Carter set up a meeting with Tom Avery, the 707 Hub’s entrepreneur-in-residence. “As a serial entrepreneur, Tom brings a lot of experience and passion to helping students think through their businesses and determine the next steps to move from idea to action,” says Otero.

Avery and the 707 Hub team have become a resource for Carter as she navigates the ups and downs of business ownership. “They were sending me emails about patent attorneys and helping me out so I can make sure everything’s good for my business legally,” she says.

The 707 Hub’s staff also helped her create a marketing plan and promote her business in on-campus publications. Carter’s success on TikTok came as a bonus. “TikTok surprisingly has been helping me a lot with sales,” she says. “It’s a whole community of small business owners that sell and market their products.”

While Carter stays busy selling the Krisband, the pandemic hasn’t hindered progress at the 707 Hub either. Otero say she’s seen a surge of students interested in starting new ventures since March 2020. Cierra Griffin, an engineering student, is collaborating with a recent Marquette graduate to create a subscription box for young girls interested in STEM. Other students, like Graham Bowerman, founder of Starving Artists (a collective for Marquette student performers, now featured in a weekly livestream series), repositioned their ventures to better serve the community during the pandemic.

“This has been a period of creation in a period of isolation,” Otero says. “I think we will see some disruption come, especially from young people who have ideas and might use this as an opportunity to turn them into something.”

Marquette’s 707 Hub stands out among other collegiate entrepreneurship programs in part because of its Jesuit values. Otero explains, “We’re encouraging students not just to think about building an app or creating a new business, but to think about how this new business is inclusive and solving a real problem. That goes above and beyond the potential economic impact. It’s rooted in something.”

The problem-solving approach also speaks to Carter, who plans to grow her business beyond the Krisband and sell other wellness products to help improve health and daily life for her customers.

Carter explains, “My favorite part of this entire experience is hearing people’s feedback about how much they really enjoy the product and how it’s helped them.”

By Jenny Smulson, Vice President of Government Relations, AJCU

Last week, our nation welcomed a new Administration. The traditional inauguration ceremony came on the heels of a violent and criminal attempted take-over of the U.S. Capitol—an act that prompted all 27 of the U.S. Jesuit college and university presidents to release a joint statement condemning the violence. Meanwhile, the 117th U.S. Congress began with a 50-50 Senate controlled by the Democrats; a U.S. House of Representatives led by a narrower Democratic margin; and a new President and Vice President who have inherited multiple national crises.

For the third consecutive session, ten percent of Congress are Jesuit-educated. Thirteen members of the Senate and 42 members of the House graduated from a Jesuit college or university. In addition to our alumni, we welcome new Members of Congress who will represent our institutions in both the House and Senate.

As expected, President Biden has been busy since his swearing-in, beginning with the issuing of several Executive Orders to reverse many of the Trump Administration’s policies. These Executive Orders will: protect Dreamers by preserving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; end discriminatory bans on entry to the United States; and advance racial equity by rescinding the previous Administration’s 1776 Commission and Executive Order limiting government implementation of diversity and inclusion training. President Biden also extended the pause on student loan payments and interest on federal student loans.

The Biden Administration signaled that battling Covid remains a number one priority by calling for additional stimulus funding and federal intervention. AJCU remains grateful that the Administration and Congressional leadership continue to focus on a comprehensive Covid rescue plan that will put families, institutions, and our economy on a path toward health, safety and strength. The Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan summary calls for $35 billion in funding to expand the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, but includes some contradictory language that seems to exclude some private, nonprofit institutions of higher education from its formula (private, nonprofit HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions [MSIs] were included).

We are also aware that some Members of Congress oppose passing another Covid supplemental relief bill. In late December, just weeks prior to the Inauguration, Congress passed, and President Trump signed, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA). This bipartisan legislation provided $20 billion to students, colleges and universities through the established Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. These funds will be distributed (per formula) by the U.S. Department of Education and provide support to students and institutions of higher education for emergency needs and expenses related to the pandemic.

These funds, in addition to the $14 billion in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) funds, have provided a much-needed lifeline across the country. Still, our institutions continue to be negatively impacted by the financial expenses associated with the pandemic, as do many of our students and families.

How is AJCU engaging on these issues? Our president, Rev. Michael Garanzini, S.J., has written to all of our incoming Representatives and Senators with a connection to AJCU—those who represent our institutions in Congress, as well as our alumni. We have welcomed them to the 117th U.S. Congress by sharing our legislative priorities and offering meetings and an open-door policy to further inform them on our students, institutions, and educational traditions and successes. We have also shared with them the impact of the pandemic on our campuses and local communities.

The AJCU Government Relations Network is also deeply engaged in outreach and advocacy. Our GR leaders are reaching out to Congress to express gratitude for the federal dollars provided through CARES and CRRSSA; to share how those funds have been applied to their institutions; and to remind Members that our students, their families and our institutions continue to face massive challenges as the pandemic endures. Congress has a significant role to play in developing the next stimulus bill and AJCU will continue to work with our Congressional delegations in order to educate and inform them of our issues.

As part of the higher education community, we have requested $120 billion in funding from the federal government since the beginning of the pandemic. But this figure underestimates the struggles of our students and the losses of our schools as we continue to identify students on less-secure economic footing and in need of greater, more varied support; enrollment declines; extraordinary, unexpected costs related to safety (e.g. testing/PPE); lost revenue; and on-going expenses related to the transition to virtual and hybrid instruction. Our institutions serve as community anchors, major employers, and contributors to the stability and vitality of local economies: together, we must be partners in the national recovery from the pandemic.

We share the Biden Administration’s urgency in getting the pandemic under control to ensure our return to in-person instruction and fully reopen our campuses for the broad benefit of all. Our Jesuit colleges and universities are serving students in this moment by providing emergency support, rigorous academic instruction online, and institutional aid with a goal of ensuring continuity during this unpredictable and challenging time. We continue our mission to prepare people for others, who are deeply committed to service and caring for those on the margins. We have confidence that our graduates will lead the way in our post-pandemic world by contributing toward public health, the economic vitality of the nation, and the common good.