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New Class of Entsminger Fellows Will Lead Entrepreneurial Charge

To further the ongoing mission of fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem at Old Dominion University, a new class of faculty members, charged with bringing entrepreneurship into their respective colleges, is ready to help lead the charge.

Provost Carol Simpson recently announced the Entsminger Fellows for the 2015-16 school year. "It was so encouraging that we had many qualified nominations this year," Simpson said.

The 2015-16 class of Entsminger Fellows means that, when last year's class of nominees is included, two faculty members from each of Old Dominion's six academic colleges have been selected for the program, Simpson said.

This year's nominees, organized by academic college, are:

  • Jenifer Alonzo, associate professor of Communication and Theatre Arts, from the College of Arts & Letters;
  • Mark Lane, associate professor of Finance; and Mike McShane, associate professor of Finance, from the Strome College of Business;
  • Sheri Colberg-Ochs, professor of Human Movement Sciences and Karen Sanzo, associate professor of Educational Leadership, from the Darden College of Education; and
  • Rafael Landaeta, associate professor of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering, from the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology.

The six Entsminger Fellows will attend the nationally recognized Babson College Price-Babson Symposium for Entrepreneurship Educators in May. Then they'll join last year's Entsminger Fellows in trying to instill a culture of entrepreneurship in their colleges.

The 2014-15 Entsminger Fellows have created an entrepreneurship course which is being piloted in the Strome Entrepreneurial Center this summer, and will be offered at the 300-level University-wide this fall.

Inspired by the quest to create an entrepreneurial culture that encompasses all of the University, Old Dominion alumnus Lee Entsminger is providing annual funding for the program.

"We expect entrepreneurism to flourish in all of the colleges so building a network of professors across the university was critical," Entsminger said. "They will share a common understanding and approach to teaching entrepreneurship and will model the behavior of collaboration so critical for entrepreneurial endeavors to be successful."

A 1974 ODU geology graduate, Entsminger has been active in numerous initiatives involving his alma mater, endowing a scholarship in coastal geography, guest lecturing in engineering and, recently, participating in the university's development of an entrepreneurial curriculum.

"Entrepreneurship, at its root, is a matter of problem solving, critical thinking and the ability to communicate. Those are skills that can be taught," he said.

This is also the belief of Mark and Tammy Strome, whose $11-million gift to Old Dominion in 2014 led to the creation of the Strome Entrepreneurial Center, which opened last September.

Mark Strome, a 1978 ODU graduate in civil engineering, is chief investment officer for the Strome Group and Strome Investment Management LP, as well as the Strome Family Foundation, which provided the gift to Old Dominion.

The multipronged program is aimed at nurturing Old Dominion business entrepreneurs at every stage of the start-up process, helping them create opportunity and grow the economy.

The Entsminger Fellows program is aimed at bringing that mission into every academic college at the University.

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