Quality business schools stress the importance of entrepreneurship, and ACU is making changes to take it one step further by continuing to educate students in the art of starting businesses, but also teach them how to help others along the way.
The Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy was created in late 2011 to build a platform for this idea to be realized.
“Some board members and successful alumni wanted to enhance the focus of the College of Business in the concept of entrepreneurship and philanthropy, said Dr. Jim Litton, director of the Griggs Center.
Participants are developing curricular and co-curricular options with the goal of improving education inside the classroom, outside the classroom and throughout the community. The center was named for Dr. Jack Griggs, board of trustees member and Overton Faubus professor emeritus of business, who served as dean of the College of Business Administration from 1991-99.
To improve study outside of the classroom, two student organizations, Students in Free Enterprise and the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization, were created by the center to provide a forum for students interested in the topic, said Litton. They meet in the eHub, located in the Moore House on EN 16th St.
Entrepreneurs-in-residence, alumni working in the field in Abilene and across the nation, are available to students who would like a professional’s input on a matter.
Jarrod Brown, founder of the non-profit Mission Lazarus is working with the group to give students an opportunity to participate with his organization in Honduras.
After taking a class taught by Litton and Dr. Andy Little, associate professor of business, students will travel to Mission Lazarus’ Honduras operation where they will work with Brown to create and manage a retail organization. The project’s organizers believe working with professionals on tangible projects will help students understand the concepts introduced in the new curriculum.
Dr. Rick Lytle, dean of the College of Business Administration said the goal is to establish a student-run retail organization that will import goods from Mission Lazarus and serve as the distribution arm.
“The students will be faced with the question of how do you go into developing countries that don’t have the resources we have and help struggling economies and create jobs and businesses,” Lytle said.
Inside the classroom, the Griggs Center is tasked with creating curriculum options focused on integrating entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Litton said the center is working on a new curriculum package, which is available to students this semester that embodies these goals. The 9- to 12-hour concentration will be for all ACU students, not just those in COBA, Litton said.
The primary concern of the Griggs Center is educating students, but the program also reaches out to the community and surrounding areas, said Lytle.
“The multi-faceted core of the program is on this campus, it is built for ACU students, but through making it for our students we are helping the community,” Lytle said. “We are doing things with the state and local government to help spawn entrepreneurship in the nineteen county area around Abilene.”
Lytle said he agrees in preparing students to become successful entrepreneurs so they can give back to others. And through the mission of the Griggs center, he hopes students to see why that is important. Litton agrees.
“One of the basic concepts behind marrying philanthropy with entrepreneurship is the hope that we are not only helping to train students and give them the skill sets to be successful in their careers,” Litton said. “Part of our goal is to make sure students have that mindset when they leave.”