Entrepreneurship educators gather for annual conference

Sean Yoder
September 23, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Entrepreneurship Educators Gathering on Sept. 17 brought entrepreneurship advocates together from across the University to discuss how to improve the entrepreneurship ecosystem for students.

The annual conference, now in its ninth year, is organized by the Center for Penn State Student Entrepreneurship (CPSSE), a collaborative effort by educators from many colleges, campuses and programs at Penn State.

“Entrepreneurship and innovation are taught in every college and at every campus,” said Anne Hoag, director of the Center for Penn State Student Entrepreneurship and associate professor in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. “With so many entrepreneurship educators teaching in so many different disciplines and departments, it’s essential that we get together and share ideas that improve the student learning experience. This annual gathering is one of the ways we do that.”

The demand for entrepreneurship education only continues to increase. According to AACSB International, in March 2020 demand worldwide for entrepreneurship education was up 66% year-on-year. Worldwide, colleges and universities continue adding entrepreneurship to their business programs.

At Penn State, entrepreneurship education is available to 76,000 students, a claim no other university can make, Hoag said.

“We’ve worked to break down barriers and make entrepreneurship available to more and more students over the years,” Hoag said. “At this year’s gathering, we had many great conversations, like how to keep students enrolled as they develop their ideas.”

Nearly 50 educators gathered at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center or joined by Zoom to attend the 10 different sessions.

The morning keynote session had entrepreneurship educators think about how to support student entrepreneurs in the context of One Penn State 2025. Presenting were Lance Kennedy-Phillips, vice provost for planning and assessment; and Liz Wright, associate dean for academic affairs, Office of the Senior Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses, and director of academic affairs at Penn State Hazleton.

“I think it’s important that we look at our structures and find innovation and find opportunity for change,” Kennedy-Phillips said. “I hope One Penn State 2025 can do that.”

After attendees went through a series of brainstorming sessions in small groups, they presented ideas to Kennedy-Phillips and Wright for how to better support student entrepreneurs. Groups pitched ideas such as giving students credit for their entrepreneurship ventures if they haven’t completed their degree but return to Penn State and how to help students finish their schooling while successfully building their venture.

Wright said those ideas were “near and dear to her heart.”

“How can we translate that incredibly rich experience into something that fits into that credit system?” she asked.

Throughout the day, participants chose from workshops on the role of entrepreneurship in advancing Sustainable Development Goals and teaching technologies like virtual reality and Adobe Spark. They also tackled big issues like how to deliver the needs of student entrepreneurs, creating a culture of entrepreneurship across campuses and disciplines and strengthening students’ intercultural skills through the Experiential Digital Global Engagement program.

“Every year this event gets bigger,” Hoag said. “More and more faculty and staff join our entrepreneurship and innovation educators community. It makes sense: What better way to help students prepare for the uncertainty of the future than by learning the skills, knowledge and values of innovating and enterprising?”

About the Center for Penn State Student Entrepreneurship

The CPSSE has affiliated programs from across the University.

  • The Intercollege Entrepreneurship and Innovation Minor (ENTI).
  • The Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIENT) major and graduate credit certificate program from the Smeal College of Business.
  • The bachelor of science in business with entrepreneurship option and entrepreneurship minor from Penn State Altoona.
  • New Ventures & Entrepreneurship graduate certificate from Penn State Great Valley.
  • Entrepreneurship minor, master's of business administration and CIENT graduate certificate program from Penn State World Campus.
  • Graham Fellows Program for Entrepreneurial Leadership from Penn State York.
  • Lion LaunchPad living-learning community at the University Park campus.
  • Several student organizations with an entrepreneurship and innovation focus, including Innoblue, Happy Valley Communications, Enactus, HackPSU and Happy Valley Venture Capital.
  • Sheetz Fellows program and Sheetz Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence at Penn State Altoona.

Learn more about entrepreneurship and innovation at Penn State at cpsse.psu.edu.

Last Updated September 23, 2021