Category Archives: Professors

MLA Considers Radical Changes to Dissertation | Inside Higher Ed | Disrupt Higher Ed

I am currently in the process of publishing my first two papers and preparing my dissertation — I have been against this academic publication model since entering my PhD program (why I chose a PhD program is another discussion).

Faculty and administrators  always ask why I blog, tweet, participate in online chats, and video record my interviews and ethnographic observations. Its all because I believe other media output and methods of distribution (beyond academic publications and books) are the present and future of knowledge and content. Higher ed is woefully behind in the production and distribution of content (knowledge) when compared to other sectors of society.

Looks like the uber powerful Modern Language Association is coming around to my point of view. From Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Education:

So much has changed, he said, but dissertation norms haven’t, to the detriment of English and other language programs. “Are we writing books for the 19th century or preparing people to work in the 21st?” he asked.

Leaders of the MLA — in several sessions and discussions here — indicated that they are afraid that too many dissertations are indeed governed by out-of-date conventions, leading to the production of “proto-books” that may do little to promote scholarship and may not even be advancing the careers of graduate students. During the process, the graduate students accumulate debt and frustrations. Russell A. Berman, a professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford University, used his presidential address at the MLA to call for departments to find ways to cut “time to degree” for doctorates in half.

And at a standing-room-only session, leaders of a task force studying possible changes in dissertation requirements discussed some of the ideas under consideration. There was a strong sense that the traditional model of producing a several-hundred-page literary analysis dominates English and other language doctoral programs — even though many people feel that the genre is overused and frequently ineffective. People also talked about the value of digital projects, of a series of essays, or public scholarship. Others talked about ways to change the student-committee dynamic in ways that might expedite dissertation completion.

“We are at a defining moment in higher education,” said Kathleen Woodward, director of the Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington. “We absolutely have to think outside the box that the dissertation is a book or a book-in-progress.”

I will continue to hop through the hoops of the PhD (its too late for me), but will come out armed with multiple output, assets, and skill sets beyond the minimum outdated methods and content required of a 19th century business model. (#bmgen)

via MLA considers radical changes in the dissertation | Inside Higher Ed.

UT TTO Official Resigns Due to Ties to University Startups

Trouble on the technology transfer front from the University of Texas. I will have to learn more, but here is the one line pitch — uber successful California biotech researcher Richard Miller is lured to Texas to lead the way as the first commercialization chief, but quickly runs into conflict of interest issues for being too entrepreneurial! From Kirk Ladendorf at the Austin Statesman.

Miller, a veteran biotechnology researcher and entrepreneur in California, went to work for UT in September 2010 to help turn more of the school’s research discoveries into new jobs, companies and licensing income. As part of his job, he oversaw the work of the Office of Technology Commercialization, which assists companies that are interested in using patented UT technology and negotiates licensing deals with them.

Miller resigned effective Dec. 31 after he was told by UT officials that he could not have a personal and financial involvement in companies that might want to license technology developed at UT.

UT generated $25.6 million in licensing revenue in the most recent fiscal year and completed 29 new licensing and options agreements, according to the commercialization office’s website. The school also received 58 U.S. and foreign patents last year.

Juan Sanchez, UT’s vice president of research, said there was no active conflict of interest with Miller’s involvement with the companies because they had not yet licensed technology from UT. However, Miller “was setting up a scenario in which he would be negotiating with himself, and that would have been a conflict of interest, which we would not allow,” Sanchez said.

“We couldn’t move forward with his expectation of having a dual role” with the companies, Sanchez said. “It was clear that he would have to divest his interest. The resignation was his call. I would have liked him to remain as chief commercialization officer, but he chose not to.”

Sanchez said he instructed Miller in December to divest his interests in three startup companies that he had co-founded with UT faculty members and graduate students. Miller did divest his holdings in the three companies — Wibole, Graphea Inc. and Ultimor — but resigned sometime after that discussion, Sanchez said.

Get the most out of university technology transfer is a common cry, its no wonder we are running into scenarios such as this.

Over the past decade, UT has stepped up its efforts to generate more revenue from technology licensing. Part of the reason is faculty pressure and recruitment of top-level researchers. Both new recruits and existing research faculty have pressed the school’s administration to take a more proactive role in tech commercialization.

Pike Powers, an Austin lawyer and veteran economic development activist, said Miller brought new ideas to UT but might not have understood the constraints of working for a public university.

“He was offering some new ideas and thoughts about ways that the University of Texas could be more competitive,” Powers said. “I don’t think he received as strong a reception as he wanted to receive, so it was frustrating for him. He met with numerous members of the business community, and we advised him to be very careful about what steps he took next and to make sure he had the full support of the business community and the UT administration. But I don’t think he ever heard that message to the extent that he should have.”

What I find interesting is that people are looking for entrepreneurial leaders, but they also demand consensus. That is a little backwards no?

via UT official resigns after questions raised about ties to startups.

Entrepreneurship Education | The University of Delaware

Interesting insight into some of the undergraduate entrepreneurship offerings at the University of Delaware:

As the semester was winding down over the last few weeks, students in Matthew Terrell’s Introduction to Entrepreneurship class ended their fall course on a high note with a special visit from Dansko co-founder Mandy Cabot, who created a $125 million company that began out of the trunk of her car.

The class, which is designed to help students understand the concepts, tools and practices of entrepreneurship and to develop their skills in entrepreneurial thinking, featured a Founders Forum that brought in entrepreneurs throughout the semester who specialize in everything from medical services and information technology, to real estate and footwear.

“Entrepreneurship is a way of thinking and acting,” said Terrell, a supplemental faculty member in the Department of Business Administration in the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics. “This course encourages students to reevaluate their own views of entrepreneurship and the ways they are thinking and acting by bringing in entrepreneurs who share their own stories.”

Cabot, co-founder of Dankso, was one of the final entrepreneurs to share her story with the class.

She explained how a horse-buying trip to Denmark — the home country of her husband and co-founder Peter Kjellerup — over two decades ago turned into a clog-discovery trip, ultimately leading them to sign an exclusive agreement to distribute the shoes in America.

The power of a good class visit, to provide role models, voices beyond the instructors, and simple words of encouragement to students, forms an important part of most entrepreneurship curriculum.

The entrepreneur visit is especially powerful when the entrepreneur is an accessible heavy hitter such as Mandy Cabot that make big success reachable to undergraduates and others that may not be on the “fast track” (ie Stanford engineering, HBS, Wharton, MIT, etc.).

via Speakers share life lessons with Lerner College class.

Joichi Ito of MIT Media Lab on Innovation and Education

Great piece (h/t @auerswald) putting innovation, iteration, and education into context. My two favorite segments 1) “The ethos of the Internet is that everyone should have the freedom to connect, to innovate, to program, without asking permission” (something I have been communicating in my lectures for 3 years and now have a fancy quote for!) and 2) “In fact, it is now usually cheaper to just try something than to sit around and try to figure out whether to try something.” ( something I am now integrating into my class with Lean, Blank, Business Model Canvas, etc..) From the piece by Joichi Ito in the NYT:

Innovators are able to prototype a new product with 3-D printers and cheap laser cutters for nearly nothing. Even complex products can be manufactured with help from supply chain companies that are making their systems available online to anybody. Today we are seeing the emergence of a community of hardware hackers and designers very reminiscent of the developers who wrote the original open standards of the Internet. An explosion of grass-roots innovation in hardware is coming — freely designed and freely shared — as it did in software.What has been a wildly successful model for consumer Internet start-ups in Silicon Valley turns out to be an extremely good model for learning in a wide variety of fields and disciplines. The students at M.I.T.’s Media Lab experiment, create and iterate; they produce demos and prototypes, and share and collaborate with the rest of the world through the Internet and a distributed network of connections and relationships.

I don’t think education is about centralized instruction anymore; rather, it is the process establishing oneself as a node in a broad network of distributed creativity.

The entire piece is well worth reading. Some good thoughts in there.

via Joichi Ito – Innovating by the Seat of Our Pants –

Fred Wilson Visits an HBS Tech Venture Class | #Leanstartup

VC Fred Wilson went to visit an entrepreneurship class at Harvard Business School and shares his insights.

Yesterday I went up to Harvard Business School and participated in a lunch and a class. My friend Jeff Bussgang arranged the trip and we were hosted by HBS Professor Tom Eisenmann. Jeff and I sat in front of Tom’s class Launching Technology Ventures and talked for almost 2 hours on topics like Lean Startup Methodology, Pivoting, doing a startup vs joining a startup, and more.

I can tell you this, the HBS I visited is not the HBS I used to know. The students I had lunch with had all built a startup and exited before going to HBS. The knowledge and passion for startups evident in Tom’s class was off the charts. If business school is turning into entrepreneur school, then that’s a damn good thing.Anyway, Jeff took notes from the day and posted them on his blog. Every time I talk in front of a large group and take questions, some things come out of my mouth that are new thoughts that I’ve not expressed before. Between Jeff’s post and the tweet stream from the class, I was able to review the talk and a few thoughts struck me as good enough to share here.

- There is a very high correlation between lean startup approach and the top performing companies in our two funds.

- Lean startup methology is great, but it is really a lean startup culture you want.- Lean startup is a machine, garbage in will give you garbage out.

- Early in a startup, product decisions should be hunch driven. Later on, product decisions should be data driven.

- Hunches come from being a power user of the products in your category and from having a long standing obsession about the problem you are solving.

- Domain expertise to the point of obsession is highly correlated with the most successful entrepeneurs in our portfolio.

- Ideas that most people derided as ridiculous have produced the best outcomes. Don’t do the obvious thing.

via A VC: MBA Tuesday.

U of Cincinnati Looks To Engineers and Entrepreneurship for Opportunity Creation and Economic Growth

Just read an interesting piece about University of Cincinnati’s efforts  to offer more entrepreneurial opportunities to students and faculty in its engineering programs. (h/t tto2newco).

Apparently Dean Carlo Montemagno of the College of Engineering and Applies sciences is an educational innovator at UC. From the Enterchange:

He soon will launch an Entrepreneurial Innovation Center, too. In recent interviews, Montemagno revealed to the Enquirer the first details of a university initiative to create high-tech, high-paying jobs and drive economic development in this region.

Likely to open at the Edgecliff campus in Walnut Hills, the innovation center will give his college’s 140 professors and 4,300 students access to workshops, mentors, lab space and an engineering accelerator program to help build and launch businesses.

A new entrepreneurial sabbatical allows professors a year away from teaching in order to start their companies.

Eventually, all three efforts will be open to faculty and students in other UC colleges.

“The idea is to remove the wall between discovery at universities and implementation in the economy,” Montemagno says. “It ensures the relevancy of the research to fit the needs of the economy.”

From a recent university press release on the entrepreneurial initiatives:

University of Cincinnati officials today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) designed to increase the level of technology commercialization in Southwest Ohio.
Signing the MOU between UC and the Hamilton County Development Corporation were Santa Jeremy Ono, UC provost and senior vice president; Carlo Montemagno, dean of UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science; and  David Main, president of the Hamilton County Development Co., Inc. (HCDC) and Hamilton County Business Center, Inc.

The non-binding MOU intends to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within the university’s College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) by promoting the creation of technical businesses based on the research achievements of faculty, students and staff. This enterprise is expected to encourage the creation, development and growth of innovative ventures by leveraging the combined strength of UC’s technology expertise and HCBC’s entrepreneurial assistance services.

I have been looking and I see no mention of the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati in any of the materials discussing these recent initiatives.


Illini Freshman Do #SocEnt in Business School | Business Education

I grew up in Illinois so have always appreciated the intellectual greatness of the University of Illinois (ask Marc Andreessen about the brains and opportunities in Urbana-Champaign). Just found some interesting news that the College of Business had 600 students participate in a professional responsibility course and its obvious social entrepreneurship  and social impact were key components. (I wonder if this is the type of course is the kind of thing @CabreraAngel implemented at Thunderbird — more on George Mason University’s new president Angel Cabrera). From Don Dodson of The News-Gazette:

“The ideas spanned a variety of needs from food, health and sanitation to transportation, education, housing, energy and entrepreneurship,” said Madhubalan Viswanathan, a UI professor of business administration.

The product ideas and business plans came as part of a “poster session” competition that was the capstone project for the Business 101: Introduction to Professional Responsibility course.

The course, required for first-year undergrads in the College of Business, had about 600 students in it this fall.Among the ideas students came up with, Viswanathan said, were:

— A low-cost refrigerator to preserve food.

— A system to help shopkeepers with low literacy levels keep track of inventory.

— An inflatable floating disaster shelter for coastlines.

Some more,

One of the first-place teams, Dentofresh, created a powder-based mouthwash for the Indian marketplace. When mixed with water, the product would help users avoid serious dental-health problems.

Each member of that team — Stephen Murphy, Gregory O’Connor, Eric Tchon, Michelle Wojnarowski and Rebecca Zielke — received $200 awards.

The other first-place team, Do Your Duty, devised the “Duty Bag” as a way to improve sanitation in a densely populated slum in Nairobi, Kenya.

The team described the Duty Bag as “a sanitary, eco-friendly and affordable bag that people can use when defecating.” Its use could decrease the presence of harmful waste and improve the environment, the team said.

Members of that team — John Casey, Nayeli Garcia, Nichole Johnson and Christopher Pastuovic — also received $200 each.

Members of second-place teams received $150 each, while members of third-place teams got $100 each. Money was provided by the College of Business.

Second-place team Back Nap came up with a blanket that could be folded into a backpack for homeless people.

via 28 UI students take home $4,200 in product project |

Global Entrepreneurship Week at George Mason University | #GEW #SOCENT

Its Global Entrepreneurship Week!! Get out and take part! StartUp Mason is hosting “From President’s Park to the Inc 500: Now Its Your Turn” on November 16, 2011 from 1-4 pm. More information at StartUp Mason.

Brandon Labman and Tom Moore will discuss their path from a Mason dorm room to the 2011 Inc 500 list. After hearing from Labman and Moore we will hold a lean start-up workshop discussing and using the ideas of Eric Ries and Steven G Blank to experiment with new venture ideas. All are welcome (students, faculty, arts majors, scientists, administrators, social innovators, etc.) Please share! Please visit StartUp Mason.

Students and Professors Try Open Innovation | Nature Publishing Group

Crisitina Jimenez has an interesting piece on ‘open innovation’ – where problems are shared publicly and rewards offered for suitable solutions. Jimenez’s piece highlights how students and faculty are using ‘open innovation’ challenges to find funding, work on interesting problems, and make meaning.

InnoCentive, an organization based in Waltham, Massachusetts, that uses the Internet to link ‘seekers’ — client companies struggling with pressing scientific or business problems — with ‘solvers’ — more than 250,000 problem-cracking minds around the globe, InnoCentive claims. The company is one of several, most of which are based in the United States, that are engaged in ‘open innovation’. The motivating principle behind open innovation is that companies and other institutions should take full advantage of widely distributed knowledge in a wired world, finding products, patents and solutions — scientific, technological or social — outside the confines of their own organizations.

Later Jimenez explains,

Scientists who moonlight as solvers can use novel means to explore long-standing problems. Chris Wilmer, a PhD student in chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, solved a challenge that involved the lack of access to clean water in poor villages of developing countries. He found inspiration in the success of a mobile-phone business run by the Grameen Bank in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The bank would lend phones to a local entrepreneur in a poor village, who would pay back the loan by charging others in the village to use a phone. It was a profitable and self-sustaining model. Wilmer described how a similarly structured safe-water business could yield humanitarian benefits. “I enjoy solving social problems, so it was fun,” says Wilmer, who has also won a second challenge involving programming a software tool to help characterize synthetic DNA strands.

For some, pursuing open innovation is a way to achieve career independence and flexibility. Grace Kepler, part-time associate research professor at the Center for Research in Scientific Computation at North Carolina State University (NCSU) in Raleigh, sees the challenges as well suited to scientists who, like her, are not employed full-time and have family responsibilities — as well as those who need more money or are unencumbered by intellectual-property issues.

While some entrepreneurs have developed open and crowd sourced businesses (Redhat to Kickstarter) we should expect to see more open innovation and crowd sourcing on campus (beyond technological innovation) and this presents opportunities for entrepreneurs.

We are trying an open source accelerator at George Mason. Check out StartUp Mason.

via Funding: Researching outside the box : Nature : Nature Publishing Group.

Stanford MBA Gives $150 M to Fight Global Poverty | #SOCENT #SOCINN

Like many philanthropists before him, Stanford MBA graduate and successful venture capitalist (Peninsula Capital) Bob King sees higher education as a central platform for improving society. From Kathryn Roethel of the San Francisco Chronicle:

Stanford University will announce one of the largest cash gifts in school history today – $150 million to the Graduate School of Business to create an institute that develops creative ways to fight poverty worldwide.

It all began with $1.25.

That’s the amount of money that 1.4 billion people in developing countries live on each day, according to the World Bank. And that’s the statistic that Bob King, founder of Menlo Park investment firm Peninsula Capital, and his wife, Dottie, cite when explaining why they decided to make the gift.

“We wondered, how might we do something bold and significant,” said King, who earned his MBA at Stanford in 1960. “Something like giving light to the slums (without electricity) in Nairobi, or something to improve the health of the children born there. Something that could combat malaria or alleviate AIDS in Africa.”

King said he and Dottie considered all of the poverty-fighting charities they could support directly, but picked Stanford because it will give students and professors a platform to do research in other countries and then return to create solutions using university resources.

Entrepreneurs have been key builders of universities in America and its clear that their vision in business is often matched by a ‘societal’ vision through their ‘investment’ in students, professors, and lines of research. This investments provide ongoing impact rather than just filling short term needs (see charity).

The role of philanthropist in the growth of entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship on campuses cannot be overlooked as we try to assess, understand, and improve entrepreneurship in higher education.

BTW, here is some of what Stanford will do with the funding:

Business School Professor Hau Lee will direct the program, called the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, known informally as Seed. He said many professors and students in the business, law, medical and engineering schools at Stanford already have been doing projects that fit the Kings’ goals, but the magnitude of their gift “will allow us to do something big.”

Plans include awarding travel grants – both to Stanford students who want to test products and ideas in developing countries, and to students from those countries who want to visit Stanford and seek support for their poverty-fighting solutions.

Lee said the institute also will offer stipends to students who want to take internships in developing countries for little or no pay – a big perk for those who have to weigh the humanitarian internships against well-paying summer jobs on Wall Street.

Institute leaders are creating entrepreneurial courses, some of which will begin this academic year. They also plan to expand many existing courses and bring them into the institute.

via Stanford gets $150 million to fight world poverty.