By Connor O’Neill – “I taught the course last semester and I don’t want to be too dramatic but it literally changed my life,” Dr. Gregg Whittaker admitted about one of the entrepreneurial courses in Jewell’s new enhanced entrepreneurial curriculum. Over the past several years, Jewell has been a pioneer in the entrepreneurial field among colleges and universities in the United States. Recently Jewell received a $500,000.00 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to enhance and encourage the entrepreneurial program on campus.
One of the cornerstone courses in the curriculum is “Who Owns The Ice House?”, a class centered on the novel, “Who owns the Ice House?” by Gary Schoeniger and Clifton Taulbert. During the course, students study the personal experience of Clifton Taulbert, an African American, who became successful because of the opportunity presented to him and his hard work to capitalize on the opportunity. Drawing on the entrepreneurial life lessons Taulbert learned from his Uncle Cleve, “Who Owns the Ice house?” chronicles Taulbert’s journey from life in the Mississippi Delta at the height of legal segregation to being recognized by Time magazine as one of our nation’s most outstanding emerging entrepreneurs.
Students in the course come to understand the essence of an entrepreneurial mindset and the unlimited opportunities it can provide through dedication and hard work. As Dr. Whittaker puts it, “If you want to be successful, work harder; if you want to be more successful work even harder.” Whittaker also advises students, “There are no facts in the classroom…let’s leave the classroom and let’s go out and do it.”
Another course under development in the new entrepreneurial curriculum is called “Fast Track” which will be taught in the spring of 2014. “Fast Track” will go hand in hand with “Who Owns The Ice House?” with “Ice House” focusing on the mindset of an entrepreneur, and “Fast Track” focusing on the strategies and processes involved in launching a new business.
The new entrepreneurial initiative is not limited to business-related majors. Rather, it is designed to be cross-disciplinary and inform students from a wide variety of backgrounds and with a diverse set of interests and skills.