Illustration of ideas

Preparing the next generation of entrepreneurs

April 27, 2021

Student Experience

In recent years the University has worked to integrate entrepreneurial thinking across disciplines, including a push to encourage leadership and liberal arts students to pursue their creative passions and build their entrepreneurial knowledge and skills.                                                                      

A 2017 proposal that framed entrepreneurship as a “major engine of economic and societal change,” led the Robins School of Business to launch the minor in entrepreneurship a year later.  The goal, then and now, is to enable individuals to “follow their dreams and engage in highly rewarding careers” in the arts, humanities, sciences, or leadership, according to the proposal.

The entrepreneurship minor is available to any undergraduate student other than those majoring in business, accounting, economics, or minoring in business. It is specifically designed to provide non-business school students with knowledge and training that will allow them to practice their major studies within start-up and small business environments. 

Currently, about 70 students from the Jepson School of Leadership Studies and the School of Arts and Sciences are minoring in entrepreneurship, said Mickey Quiñones, dean of the Robins School of Business.

Innovation and entrepreneurship are becoming University flagship programs.
headshot of Doug Bosse
Doug Bosse

Department Chair, Management

Program organizers believe that students who pursue the minor will emerge knowing how to integrate their primary areas of study with business courses to “broaden their thinking and enhance their creativity and problem-solving skills.” Coursework includes financial accounting, principals of microeconomics, marketing, entrepreneurship and innovation, new venture creation, and managing innovation.

Meredith Johnson, a UR junior majoring in leadership studies and history and minoring in entrepreneurship, said the entrepreneurship minor fits her personality. She is active in several activities on campus that include event planning and club lacrosse.

“I’m a hands-on visual learner and I also like to paint,” she said. “My roommate and I have all these sticky notes on our apartment wall with all these weird ideas.” 

Minoring in entrepreneurship helps her channel and organize some of the ideas, she said, noting how one of her course assignments required creating a noncompetitive game. 

“It took me 10 minutes to come up with a murder mystery,” Johnson said, “Some think of creativity as a mess but there is organization in that chaos.”                                                                         

Doug Bosse, chair of the management department in the Robins School of Business, said that UR’s admissions office informs students about the minor, along with information sessions that are conducted by Robins faculty and staff. Suggestions for future growth include having every student in the minor start a new venture before graduating and connecting students to local entrepreneurs to help them gain practical experience in launching their ventures. 

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are becoming University flagship programs,” Bosse said.  “The management department’s programs, its concentration and minor in entrepreneurship, are pillars in this wider University push. Faculty in this department are specialists in the academic fields of innovation and entrepreneurship. Students who want to study creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship – and earn their own academic credential in this area – will pursue the minor or the concentration.”

In 2018, the University released a series of recommendations to develop a Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship initiative that shares many of the objectives in the entrepreneurship minor. Somiah Lattimore joined the provost’s office in February 2021 as UR’s inaugural director of the CIE initiative, which is charged with tapping the expertise of UR’s five schools to help develop new courses and projects to solve real-world problems.

Lattimore brings broad experience to her role at UR. She is experienced in leading student-founded companies throughout Virginia by providing access to acceleration, capital, and workforce development. She also has been recognized as a design educator and award-winning creative director.

Accustomed to working in entrepreneurial environments since childhood when she handled billing for her self-employed father, Lattimore explains that entrepreneurship is “about creating experiences for students. “My goal is that students can come away from UR having had several years of experience with their degree skills that make them a powerhouse.” 

Johnson, who plans to work in marketing after graduating before possibly striking out on her own, sees entrepreneurship as “exciting for my generation because we can work for ourselves and be in control of the impact we have on the world.”