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Third Class of Entsminger Fellows Will Lead Entrepreneurship Efforts in ODU Academic Colleges

By Brendan O'Hallarn

Every year since 2014, six faculty members, known as Entsminger Fellows, have led efforts to help grow an entrepreneurial culture in the University's academic colleges.

The Entsminger Fellows program - named for alumnus Lee Entsminger '74, who provided a gift to the University to support it - has started to pay dividends.

Most of the 18 Entsminger Fellows gathered at a long table in the University's Strome Entrepreneurial Center on Aug. 31 to discuss how this year's class can continue the momentum started by the previous fellows.

"There are all of these pockets of entrepreneurship in each college," Nancy Grden, executive director of the Strome Entrepreneurial Center, told the fellows. "The passion for entrepreneurship at the University says to me it's a community full of opportunity right now."

The faculty members, representing all of Old Dominion's academic colleges, talked about lessons they learned on course development, student growth and empoweringcolleagues to also promote entrepreneurship in their research and teaching.

"What we've got here are the true disciples. Now what we have to do is produce critical mass," said Charlie Daniels, senior lecturer of engineering management and systems engineering, who was a member of the first class of Entsminger Fellows.

The 2016-17 Entsminger Fellows include a dean, a nursing educator, an engineer, a digital media and gaming researcher, a management professor and an education researcher. They worked collaboratively when they attended the week-long Price-Babson Symposium for Entrepreneurship Educators at Babson College in Massachusetts in the spring.

"Our Babson class had people from different disciplines, different countries and across both academia and industry. When we worked in teams, it seemed the more diverse the members, the better our output product," said Holly Handley, associate professor of engineering management and systems engineering.

"It made me realize the value of forming entrepreneurial teams across our University to leverage the experiences and perspectives of our colleagues in different departments and colleges."

The Entsminger Fellows seek to harness that multidisciplinary energy to create innovative academic programming for Old Dominion students. That synergy was something Entsminger, a 1974 geology graduate, envisioned would be a byproduct of the program.

"As a concept, set of practices and as an orientation to the world, entrepreneurship can be a powerful tool for educators, artists and students seeking to reverse the expectation and demand for decontextualized and disconnected knowledge," said David Metzger, dean of the Honors College and a professor of English at Old Dominion.

Deborah Gray, lecturer and director of the family nurse practitioner program in the School of Nursing, said, "I am very passionate about teaching entrepreneurship, particularly social entrepreneurship, and empowering students and others to develop their entrepreneurial ideas to create impactful, viable ventures that make a difference."

Jing Zhang, assistant professor in the Strome College of Business' Department of Management, was struck by how entrepreneurship made her rethink her model for the craft of teaching.

"The method goes beyond understanding, knowing and talking. It requires using, applying and acting. Working together with educators from different disciplines and countries, we co-created innovative ways for teaching entrepreneurship in today's global environment," Zhang said.

Kevin Moberly, associate professor of rhetoric, digital media and game studies in the College of Arts & Letters, said he was impressed with how neatly entrepreneurial education aligns with the emphasis that the study of the humanities places on creativity, interpretation and production. "I am also interested in the way that entrepreneurship speaks to the specific challenges of game studies and game design," he said.

Christopher Glass, assistant professor of educational foundations and leadership, researches how the presence of off- and online networks affects educational outcomes, particularly among international students.

He said the skills he acquired at Babson will be invaluable.

"For me, I want to make sure that everything we do prepares students to creatively solve problems, no matter what field they're in. Isn't that the essence of entrepreneurship?"

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