An Interview with
Freeman A. Hrabowski III, Ph.D.
President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Modesto A. Maidique, Ph.D.
President, Florida International University
|Freeman A. Hrabowski|
|Modesto A. Maidique |
The eight schools chosen for the initial Kauffman Campuses Initiative have become models for what the nine new Kauffman Campuses will become. Among them is Florida International University, in Miami, which has used its Kauffman Foundation grant to start entrepreneurship courses in academic fields as varied as architecture, industrial engineering, and religious studies, among others.
Modesto "Mitch" Maidique, president at Florida International, credits the Kauffman Foundation with creating the excitement necessary to get the university's new, bold program up and running.
At the Kauffman Foundation's behest, Dr. Maidique talked with Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), a newly named second-round recipient of a Kauffman Campuses grant. Dr. Hrabowski may be a new grantee but is not new to the Campuses idea: UMBC was a finalist in the first Kauffman Campuses competition but did not ultimately receive a grant.
In 2003, Florida International University received a grant of $3 million over five years from the Kauffman Foundation. What has the university accomplished with it?
Maidique: Actually, it's been incredible. We started eighteen new graduate and eighteen new undergraduate courses in five of our schools and colleges. We started a Family Business Forum to support a large number of family firms in South Florida. We've launched training programs for social entrepreneurs. And we have evolved a group of specialties in the departments of industrial engineering, journalism, chemistry, environmental engineering, architecture, and religious studies. We have organized our entrepreneurship center and helped launch a business plan competition for South Florida. We've become known as the center for entrepreneurship in South Florida.
Do you have any advice for Dr. Hrabowski and other second-round grantees about how they should approach this program?
Maidique: Since entrepreneurship is a somewhat diffuse idea to most people, unless you've been an entrepreneur, it takes a lot of explaining and assistance from the president's office to make a program like this successful. You're going to have to stand behind your faculty and give cover from time to time.
Hrabowski: That's excellent advice. We've invested a lot of time in gearing up for this program. Although we were not successful with Kauffman Campuses I in 2003, we used that proposal as a blueprint for entrepreneurship education on our campus. We moved ahead with our Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship, raising $3 million toward it, which is significant for a relatively young university like ours located in a fairly small state. We're in the middle of a campaign to raise $100 million for the university, $10 million of which will go for entrepreneurship. And now, we have $2 million from the Kauffman Foundation. We have a board that is focused on entrepreneurship and raising money for it.
Why did UMBC seek the grant?
Hrabowski: Our faculty believes in the value of an entrepreneurial education. They're telling me that our students are very interested in it. In Maryland, we are known as an entrepreneurial university. We have about forty biotech and information technology companies on campus in our research park, where both faculty and students are working. So, it just made sense to move ahead. It's not every day that faculty members are enthusiastic about an idea. So, when you have faculty say, "We want to do this," then you need to find a way to do it.
Where is most of your faculty interest coming from?
Hrabowski: It's very interesting. We knew we'd get it from engineering because many of our faculty members in engineering have their own companies. They're involved in technology commercialization, so their interest wasn't surprising. But it was absolutely encouraging to see the interest of our artists—our arts faculty—and some of our departments of humanities and social sciences. Part of our grant proposal deals with a more formal way to approach and teach entrepreneurship across a number of disciplines. Sixty percent of our students are in science and engineering, and we have faculty who are ready and willing to focus on entrepreneurship in those departments. But we're also looking to get some things moving in social entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship involving the arts and humanities. We've had a series of seminars by four faculty members who are working on weaving entrepreneurship courses into the performing arts curriculum. It's been transformative. We've had students who've started dance ensembles, graphic design firms, and the like in the Baltimore area. What has become clear is that these people have terrific artistic skills, but they are unfamiliar with entrepreneurship practices. Too often, we see that companies don't succeed in the arts because there's no one there with expertise involving the business side of things.
The other point is we're a large producer of the technology graduates for the state. Mitch, we produce about 30 percent of all the tech grads in Maryland. That's how concentrated we are in IT and the like.
Maidique: Oh, that's incredible.
Hrabowski: We have a lot of IT companies on campus. A number of our students have started IT companies and they're saying that they're great with the technology, but that they also want to learn the entrepreneurial skills they need. So, we are doing a lot more with finance, accounting, economics, and trying to see what we need to do to understand this discipline of entrepreneurship and get more faculty members involved.
Maidique: One of the areas where we've had the most marked success is student interest. We used to have one hundred people enrolled in entrepreneurship courses. Now, we have a total of eight hundred. It's a product that's very attractive in the current student marketplace. What we've learned is that if you build these courses, they will come.
Hrabowski: That's another reason why the Kauffman Foundation's Campuses program is so important. Our student interest is clearly ahead of our resources. Every entrepreneurship class we offer is already full. People are asking us, "When are you going to go after more?"
Maidique: The other thing I would advise you about is that you have to plan ahead. You have to think about enrollment, think about donations, about what is feasible. The Kauffman Foundation will seed your efforts but will not provide long-term funding the way a state or a permanent endowment does.
Dr. Maidique, tell us what kind of response you've received from students for entrepreneurship courses.
Maidique: If we could double the number of professors we have, we could realistically double our enrollment in these classes—except that when we hire a professor, we're looking to pay for that slot for four years or more. It's a cost issue that we have to learn to deal with.
Hrabowski: You're exactly right.
Tell us more about the interest you're receiving from students at UMBC, Dr. Hrabowski.
Hrabowski: When we weren't selected as a Kauffman Campus several years ago, we used it for motivation. We asked ourselves, "Is this something that is really important to us?" We decided it was. Already, we have hundreds of students working in companies on campus. Then, we have thousands of students working throughout the region and they often ask us about opportunities to learn about entrepreneurship. Whenever we give seminars, lectures, workshops, they're packed.
Dr. Maidique, do you have any tips on how best to work with faculty to create curriculum that embodies the spirit of the grants?
Maidique: That's largely done by whoever heads the center. We're lucky to have an enthusiastic proselytizer in that position—(Alan L. Carsrud)—to speak about entrepreneurship. It pays to have a forceful person in that position.
Hrabowski: We have that kind of person in Vivian Armor, who directs our Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship, so we're in good shape there.
Dr. Hrabowski, UMBC is known as a public research- and sciences-teaching university. Will you apply the Kauffman Foundation grant to enhance those areas and perhaps create new linkages between departments?
Hrabowski: We will, but also for the faculty in arts and humanities and social entrepreneurs. It will strengthen us across disciplines. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has developed multiple initiatives that teach entrepreneurship and its basic tenets. A new upper-level elective course entitled "Entrepreneurship for IT" was developed and offered in fall 2006. We knew we'd have a lot of excitement from our science professors, but we were also excited to see a lot of interest in our Summer Institute, which was focused on the arts. As a result, faculty members from Theatre, Dance, Music, and Visual Arts are now developing new courses and revising existing courses to be offered in spring 2007.
Is there some prestige to receiving a Kauffman Foundation grant for cross-campus entrepreneurship?
Hrabowski: It helps us to raise more money when potential donors know the Kauffman Foundation believes in what we're doing. Kauffman is synonymous with entrepreneurship, and people know that. To be a Kauffman institution gives us a level of credibility to attract additional resources. It helps establish us as a player in this particular area.
This essay is an excerpt from the Kauffman Thoughtbook 2007
. To view a table of contents for the 2009 edition, or to order a printed copy of the publication, please visit our 2009 Thoughtbook page