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Business Schools


EPIC effort at VCU Entrepreneurship and creativity are


hot topics at many universities. Take Vir- ginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business, which this year launched a strategic plan aimed at promoting creative thinking among business students. Called EPIC (Experiential learning, Problem- solving curricula, Impactful research and Creative culture), the initiative capitalizes on VCU’s reputation as the No. 1 public arts and design school in the nation. The initiative has included the


The Money Spot Team listens to judges’ questions in the “Shark Tank” style EPIC Challenge. Teams can include faculty, students, staff and alumni.


So far the university has raised $7 mil- lion toward the project, which will break ground in late 2018 and should be com- pleted by fall 2020. Aside from creating some much-


needed elbow room, though, the new complex also will better reflect changing business school philosophy. “Our current building doesn’t fit our


values as a college of business,” says Dean Mary Gowan. “We are really known for preparing students to be collaborative business partners when they go out into


The Darden School of Business has added an Arlington location for its Executive MBA and Global Executive MBA programs.


their jobs. They understand how to work in teams, they’ve got great interpersonal skills, a strong work ethic, and we don’t have space for them to practice those skills in the College of Business. We have maybe four [or] five very small breakout rooms for students, but that’s it. We encourage them to work in teams so they are sitting in a hallway, any little spot they can find, to work on their teams.” Collaboration and innovation “will


be at the heart and soul of the design,” she says.


ongoing “Shark Tank”-like EPIC Chal- lenge, a competition to pitch ideas to support the EPIC ethos. Open to teams comprised of faculty, students, staff and/ or alumni, a handful of teams have so far received $30,000 to $70,000 to develop their ideas. Winning concepts include a new education model that would have students accessing some lecture content online and devoting more class time to team activities and homework. The VCU School of Business also


hired Richmond artist Noah Scalin as the business school’s first artist- in-residence. In addition to talking to students about creativity, Scalin crafted a portrait of Maggie L. Walker, a historic African-American businesswoman, from piles of donated clothing. “Our vision statement is driving the future of busi- ness through the power of creativity,” explains Senior Associate Dean Kenneth Kahn. “There is a vibe at the [VCU] School of Busi-


Kahn


ness around creativity that you don’t pick up when you go to other business schools.” Also cultivating creativity and


entrepreneurship is the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business, which converted one of its classrooms into an innovation lab featuring open space and several writable surfaces to encourage student startup businesses, collaborations and entrepreneurship studies. Students participating in the university’s summer Richmond Guar- antee program, which provides $4,000 to students for fellowships or faculty- sponsored research projects, will be able to apply that funding toward startups that they work on in the lab, says Dean Nancy Bagranoff.


50 JANUARY 2017


EPIC Challenge photo courtesy Virginia Commonwealth University Darden photo courtesy University of Virginia


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