When William F. Buckley Jr. wrote "God and Man at Yale" in 1951, he decried the rise of socialist and collectivist ideologies in the halls of his ivy league alma mater. My, how the times are changing. Today, Kansas' McPherson College is making local headlines for embracing the free-market principle entrepreneurship both as a principle to be upheld, and as an activity to be pursued.
Many of you know about Glenn Beck's e4 project, which celebrates four values that begin with the letter "e": enlightenment, education, empowerment, and entrepreneurship. At McPherson College, we see what happens when e2, education, comes together with e4, entrepreneurship.
Here are some of McPherson's graduating entrepreneurs:
This liberal arts college is adopting a plan to infuse the entrepreneurial spirit into the day-to-day lives of its 700 students. Consider, for instance, that the college is encouraging its young learners to pursue their own innovative ideas with the "Horizon Fund," mini grants between $100 and $500 given to students to "explore or carry out an original entrepreneurial idea." And there is an incentive scheme! The college reports that "You can apply more than once if your initial idea is selected and you can demonstrate progress."
At least thirty students have received grants since October 2010, and with their money, many of them are starting small businesses: one young woman is hoping to expand her knit-scarves business, while another young man is starting an anti-bullying non-profit. Meanwhile, senior Rod Barlet, who hails from Elizabethtown PA, hopes to start a handyman business in his hometown, "competing against larger contractors with affordability. The grant will help Barlet develop a business plan."
Two other students received money to pursue their passion for Christian Rock. Zack Gaddis and Jared Stevenson, both juniors, used their grant to copyright their music. Entrepreneurship and property rights? Was there ever a more
beautiful Randian bond? My free market cup runneth over, to quote the Good Book (liberally). “We have many ideas, but they come from God,” Gaddis said, "We’ve taken it into action and people love it. I think that’s being an entrepreneur.”
But the entrepreneurialism does not end there. There is also the Global Enterprise Challenge, a competition encouraging students to work together "to develop an idea for a social enterprise." And this too:
To help encourage that [entrepreneurial] mindset in students, the college has hired Betsy Gatewood as its first-ever entrepreneurship fellow...
Eventually, entrepreneurship will reach deep into the curriculum. The college will offer an entrepreneurship minor, but the concept will reach through all areas of coursework - something Gatewood says will set McPherson apart....
The college is trying to set itself apart through this effort; it will soon start marketing the entrepreneurial concept in recruitment efforts. But administrators say bringing entrepreneurship to the table makes sense for colleges, especially a liberal arts school.
As writer Greg Pesci reminds us over at GlennBeck.com, entrepreneurs are an indispensable part of our society. "Data from the Census Bureau," Pesci writes, "demonstrate that since 1977 American entrepreneurs in firms less than five years old have been responsible for literally all the net job creation in this country."
You can watch a clip of McPherson College President Michael Schneider speaking about the importance of entrepreneurship below. He explains rather eloquently the link between a liberal arts education and entrepreneurship: "You can actually take an idea and make it happen."