The University of Connecticut is awaiting changes to the language of “An Act Concerning Entrepreneurship at the University of Connecticut,” a state bill said to foster an environment of entrepreneurship, after pushback from administration, UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said in an email, and some UConn business students say they support the bill.
UConn President Susan Herbst and other faculty members submitted public testimonies on April 2 voicing their concerns regarding the bill.
“As written, we have significant, and in some cases, grave concerns about language within the legislation,” Herbst said in her testimony. “There are provisions that run counter to accomplishing the overarching aims of the bill, and, indeed would unintentionally cause significant and lasting harm to the university.”
The bill proposes several changes associated with strengthening the presence of entrepreneurship at UConn, starting with the revision of its mission statement in saying the objective of the university should be “to educate the population at large, with an eye towards current and emerging state, national and world economic dynamics and labor force trends.”
In addition, the bill would require that there be up to four UConn Board of Trustees members who have experience in entrepreneurship, two of whom must be under the age of 40. All future UConn presidents would also need to have entrepreneurial experience, and a new vice-president of innovation and entrepreneurship must be hired.
Second-semester accounting major Briana Giacobbe said she believes that this bill would have a positive impact on the future of the university and the students it brings in.
“Competition between universities is constantly growing, and I believe the implementation
of this bill will help UConn remain a top contender,” Giacobbe said. “There is room for entrepreneurship in all areas of study. By requiring more leaders of UConn with entrepreneurial experience, I believe the university will become more attractive.”
In her testimony, Herbst highlighted several instances in which the university fostered entrepreneurship in the past. She discussed the $22.5 million investment made by Peter Werth and the establishment of the Werth Institute; she also mentioned the School of Business offering an entry level course in entrepreneurship along with concentrations and minors in entrepreneurship, in addition to expanding the Innovation Quest prototype competition.
James Kenefick, a second-semester business management major and owner of his own landscaping business, said he feels the proposed bill would add to UConn’s entrepreneurial culture.
Kenefick said he thinks the purpose of education is to generate research-based knowledge that can be applied in the workforce, particularly in CT.
“I think entrepreneurship is very important for the future of our economy,” Kenefick said, “and we must be serious about it.”
Lillian Whittaker is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.