Holy Cross Faculty to Get Crash Course in Entrepreneurship

Immersion program among the only one of its kind in the country

August 7th, 2012 by Nikolas Markantonatos


From left, Kaithlyn Kayer, Cassie Gevry, and David Chu of the Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies at Holy Cross have been organizing a new immersion program designed for faculty and staff to familiarize them with entrepreneurship.

From Aug. 13 to 16, Holy Cross faculty and administrators will take part in a multi-day immersion into the world of entrepreneurship, which will allow them to see entrepreneurship being practiced in real time, and to understand the importance of how it connects a great idea to the marketplace — and why the success of this process is crucial to the social well-being of all countries.

Dubbed the Cambridge Innovation Project, participants will meet and talk with entrepreneurs at the Harvard Innovation Lab in Allston, Mass., and the Cambridge Innovation Center in Cambridge, Mass., one of the nation’s entrepreneurial hot spots.

David Chu, director of the Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies, which is sponsoring the program, hopes faculty will take some of the energy, passion and creativity of these entrepreneurs back to their own work at Holy Cross.

Participants will include Charles Anderton, professor of economics; Nancy Andrews, associate professor of classics; Timothy Austin, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College; Kaithlyn Kayer, associate director of COES; Marybeth Kearns-Barrett, director of the Chaplains’ Office; Cassie Gevry, program coordinator of COES and the prebusiness program; Kolleen Rask, professor of economics; Neel Smith, associate professor of classics; Bill Sobczak, associate professor of biology and director of environmental studies; and Amy Wolfson, associate dean for faculty development and professor of psychology.

Several alumni who have a vested interest in entrepreneurship will also attend, including Bob Allard ’91, co-founder, president and CEO of extensionEngine; Art Ciocca ’59, owner and chairman of the Wine Group, and namesake of COES; and John Fanning ’62, an accomplished entrepreneur who made the program possible thanks to his generous donation.

Andreas Widmer, president of the Carpenter’s Fund and author of “The Pope & The CEO: John Paul II’s Leadership Lessons to a Young Swiss Guard,” helped prepare the agenda. He will give a presentation called “Integrating Faith, Teaching, and Action at Holy Cross.” Other presenters will be Harvard faculty, and researchers in the field of entrepreneurship.

Dean Austin initially proposed the program as a way of allowing faculty to get a better idea of how products and services that benefit society are brought into the marketplace. If the program proves successful, Chu hopes to make it an annual event inviting different faculty and administrators each year. He believes this is the only program of its kind in the country among liberal arts colleges.

As the founder of two companies, Allard, who also helped prepare the agenda, is eager to see how faculty might be able to incorporate what they learn into their classrooms. A philosophy major when he was at Holy Cross, Allard says entrepreneurial spirit is characterized by innovation and risk-taking, and an essential component of a nation’s ability to succeed in an ever changing and more competitive global marketplace.

Allard, whose business is located in Cambridge and has many connections to Harvard and MIT’s entrepreneurship programs, helped line up the speakers. One of them is Jeff Burbank, founder, CEO, and member of the board of directors at NxStage, which is helping improve how renal care is delivered.

“How does a story like that develop?” says Allard. “Is it magic, is it inevitable? It’s clearly not. It requires risk, talent, courage, intellect, collaboration, resilience and persistence that you can’t buy and that we need society to reinforce in every possible way.”

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