Story by Nathan Erickson
Photo by Luke Nankivell
The Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurial Outreach and Buchanan Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership share space on the third floor of Aliber Hall.
The entrepreneurship centers, originally created through donations from entrepreneur John Pappajohn and Drake alumnus Bill Buchanan, underwent major renovations, including removal of existing structures, updates to the third-floor lobby and creation of new collaboration centers for students and faculty.
Drake’s entrepreneurship centers are directed by Deb Bishop and Assistant Director Thomas Swartwood. The center also employs a full-time administrative assistant, Stephanie Cardwell, as well as providing employment for Drake students through work-study programs. She says that much of what the entrepreneurship centers provides to students would not be possible without the help of Cardwell and student workers.
The focus of the renovations was to make the centers more accessible to students and provide a resource center for students from across campus.
“We’re trying to build a community between current Drake students and the (Des Moines) entrepreneurship community,” Bishop said.
This focus is evident when looking at the new facilities.
The new student collaboration center includes tables with video and presentation capabilities, a group meeting space complete with conference table and a faculty collaboration space.
The planning for the renovation process has been in the works for some time now, but the final push to constructions happened quickly.
Dr. Bishop said that, like entrepreneurship, it was all about timing.
“We received the financial and people resources. Then, we were able to work with faculty, administration and an architect to create a team and build a plan,” Dr. Bishop explained. “The construction portion of the project was very fast-paced.”
With the new remodeling complete, Dr. Bishop and professor Swartwood have many initiatives planned for the coming year. On September 20, a panel of entrepreneurial members from around the Des Moines community will be coming to campus for a networking event.
Other plans include an “innovation competition” and an open house in early October to welcome students from all majors. Dr. Bishop was quick to point out that the accessibility by all campus members is a unique feature of the entrepreneurial centers at Drake.
“We have this desire to give students across campus the opportunity to develop their innovative ideas while here at Drake. A critical part of that is the entrepreneurial major and minor we offer.”
Dr. Bishop explained that students enrolled in majors outside of the business school can benefit from the core principles taught in the entrepreneurship minor.
“Many students are looking to start their own business in healthcare, work for a not-for-profit organization or help launch a startup company. The core business functions we teach, along with the skills learned through the entrepreneurial courses, can really assist in propelling them forward.”
Overall, the renovations to the Pappajohn and Buchanan Entrepreneurial Centers are just a small part of the excitement.
Dr. Bishop highlighted the overall mission for newly renovated centers. “This is about innovation, creativity, exploring an idea you might have. [The entrepreneurial center] is a place where you can come to get the information and be a part of a group of students who are interested in the same thing.”