Chancellor's boot camp encourages widespread entrepreneurial thinking

May 13, 2010

Andrew Wong makes his pitch to the judgesTom Mercolino, a judge at the workshop, critiques a final pitchChancelor Thorp discussed his new book at lunch on FridayThe workshop convened in Hyde Hall

Chapel Hill, N.C. — UNC faculty members from a range of academic disciplines immersed themselves in four days of entrepreneurial thinking during the second Chancellor's Boot Camp held May 10-13. The boot camp was developed and offered by the Office of the Chancellor, the College of Arts and Sciences and the minor in entrepreneurship.

"Universities are under pressure to demonstrate the results of their research and the best way to do that is to get discoveries into the marketplace," UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp told participants at the workshop's culminating luncheon. "What we're trying to do is to expand the impact of entrepreneurship from a small circle in the university to all of you, to include music, anthropology, education, sociology, all the academic areas."

The workshop, "The Entrepreneurial Mindset — Maximizing Faculty Impact," is designed to help faculty members identify opportunities, develop strategies, understand costs and sources of finance, and develop high-performance cultures.

The curriculum for the boot camp is adapted from the economics course, "Introduction to Entrepreneurship" and also incorporated the book, "Engines of Innovation: The Entrepreneurial University in the 21st Century," written by Thorp and Buck Goldstein, UNC entrepreneur-in-residence, senior lecturer in economics, who taught in the workshop and also teaches in the entrepreneurship minor.

"Those of us from anthropology are looking for new and different ways for funding social endeavors, to make them less dependent on granting agencies," workshop participant Patricia McAnany, Kenan Eminent Professor of Anthropology, said. "We are thinking about innovative financial models for the work we're doing."

McAnany works on educational programs that empower indigenous Maya youths and create expanded life opportunities, including greater participation in the billion-dollar Mayan tourism industry that is based upon the ancient cities in Mexico and Central America that were built by their ancestors.

Bill McDiarmid, dean of UNC's School of Education, offered a similar assessment.

"The boot camp was helpful for thinking about education as a business and for thinking of ways to introduce innovation and attract private money for education from foundations or business. With the current economic situation, those of us in education need to be paying more attention to using non-state resources to support innovation in education," said McDiarmid.

"My goal coming into the boot camp was to learn about the entrepreneurial mindset and to find out what I could do to be more entrepreneurial within the context of the university," Barbara Entwisle, director of the Carolina Population Center and Kenan Distinguished Professor of sociology, said. "The Carolina Population Center is an extremely successful research center and I'm interested in how we take what we do there and develop programs to benefit others. During the workshop, I was able to get great feedback about the work we're doing at the Center."

Workshop attendees engaged in intense discussions and case studies and participated in strategic planning and team project development. In the final session, each of the four teams presented their plans to a panel of outside judges.

Featured speakers for the workshop included Ralph Snyderman, chancellor emeritus at Duke University and founder and chairman of Proventys Inc.; Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, Morehead Alumni Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and chair of the philosophy department at UNC; and Joe DeSimone, UNC chemistry professor and entrepreneurial scientist.

Other workshop instructors were UNC adjunct professor of chemistry and Magellan Laboratories founder Lowry Caudill; S.K. Heninger Distinguished Chair in Public Policy Mary Ann Feldman, whose work focuses on innovation and commercialization of academic research; and John Stewart, professor of economics and director of the entrepreneurship minor.

UNC faculty who attended the boot camp were:

  • David Adalsteinsson, associate professor, mathematics
  • John Akin, Carr Distinguished Professor and Chair, economics
  • Alice Ammerman, director, Center for Health Promotion and Disease and Prevention; professor, nutrition
  • Mark Crescenzi, associate professor, political science
  • Nancy DeMore, associate professor, surgery
  • Barbara Entwisle, Kenan Distinguished Professor, sociology, and director, Carolina Population Center
  • Mark Katz, associate professor, ethnomusicology-music
  • Rebecca Macy, associate professor, School of Social Work
  • Patricia McAnany, Kenan Eminent Professor, anthropology
  • Bill McDiarmid, dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor of Education
  • Laura Miller, assistant professor, mathematics
  • Charles Price, associate professor, anthropology
  • Todd Thiele, professor and director of research services, psychology
  • Mayron Tsong, associate professor, ethnomusicology-music
  • Stephen Walsh, professor, geography, and director, Center for Galapagos Studies
  • Andrew Wang, assistant professor, radiology oncology
  • Denniz Zolnoun, associate professor, obstetrics and gynecology