According to Thomas Goodrow, founder of the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship, Cayuga's endowed chair is the nation's first in entrepreneurship at the community college level. “Cayuga is an ideal venue for entrepreneurship education,” said Goodrow, vice president for economic and business development at Springfield Technical Community College in Massachusetts. “As a community college, Cayuga can readily offer specialized instruction that's precisely attuned to the needs and resources of the region.” A $500,000 grant awarded by the Emerson Foundation in December 2006 supports the new position, part of a major entrepreneurial initiative by the college and the greater community. In higher education, an academic chair designates a faculty member charged with overseeing an area of teaching and scholarship. An endowed chair is funded by proceeds of a dedicated investment.
“We are pleased that Professor Tom Paczkowski has been named the first Fred L. Emerson Foundation Endowed Chair in Enterprise and Innovation,” stated Daniel Fessenden, Emerson Foundation executive director. “We believe strongly in Cayuga's vision and its capacity to develop meaningful academic offerings that will inspire and prepare students to take active roles in creating new business ventures.”
As Emerson chair, Paczkowski will design an introductory credit course in entrepreneurship, along with a certificate program and a two-year degree option for in-depth study. Future plans call for a start-up laboratory for student venture teams, a student enterprise competition, an entrepreneurship scholarship, a regional Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, and outreach opportunities with BOCES and the public schools.
The college's entrepreneurship offerings will be closely linked to the region's new Stardust Institute for Entrepreneurship, seeded last spring by a grant totaling $1 million over five years from the Stardust Foundation of Central New York. Both entities will mesh their programs to share roles, ideas, opportunities and resources among local businesses, nonprofit organizations, and college students and faculty. According to Philip Gover, vice president of academic and student affairs at Cayuga, who was instrumental in developing the campus'stardust Institute partnership, the academic offerings will balance the economic and social aspects of entrepreneurship. “As students learn to pursue innovative, value-added thinking,” Gover said, “they will focus on enhancing not only business revenue and profitability, but also the quality of life in their community.” Joint “town-gown” projects will be a theme of Cayuga's entrepreneurship education, noted Paczkowski. Already, he is assisting other instructors in a variety of disciplines with grant proposals for coursework featuring real-world entrepreneurial components, to begin in 2008. “A focus on strategic innovation can produce a continuing cycle of betterment,” said Daniel Larson, president of Cayuga Community College. “By fostering an entrepreneurial mindset among our students across the disciplines, we will help prepare them to be active contributors to a more stable, prosperous, attractive community.”
As more of the college's departments incorporate the theme of entrepreneurship in their coursework, said Paczkowski, area residents and employers can look forward to Cayuga graduates with innovative ideas?and the skills to leverage those ideas?adding value to a growing array of economic and cultural assets throughout the region.