COLLEGEVILLE PA – An Ursinus College associate professor and former Pottsgrove School District director, Dr. April Kontostathis, is one of three faculty members named to play a lead role in the college’s newest interdisciplinary program – called “U-Imagine! The Center for Integrative and Entrepreneurial Studies” – which encourages students to think like entrepreneurs.
Creation of the center was formally announced Monday (Dec. 30, 2013) by Ursinus President Bobby Fong.
Kontostathis, who specializes in mathematics and computer science, and professors Carol Cirka, business and economics, and Rebecca Jaroff, English, form the team that Fong said “will instigate an entrepreneurial spirit that permeates the Ursinus campus culture, and fosters entrepreneurial competencies in students, regardless of major or post-graduate goals.”
Kontostathis has taught at Ursinus since 2003, and holds degrees from Bloomsburg, Duke and Lehigh universities. Her primary research interest is the theory and practice of information retrieval, and she has been the lead or contributing researcher and author on several scholarly publications about data mining.
She served as a member of the district Board of School Directors for eight years between 2003 and 2011.
The center hopes to emphasize creativity and collaboration, integrative thinking, and an entrepreneurial mindset usually associated with successful business people, Fong indicated. Its intent, he added, will be to provide “a rigorous liberal education that cultivates sound judgment essential for a satisfying career and a useful life.”
The program features an entrepreneurial competition, called U-Innovate!, in which students are encouraged to come up with a “big idea” and vie for awards in a public forum. The contest asks students to develop “inspired, imaginative and innovative ideas for a product or service that fulfills a market need and/or solves a social problem,” organizers said.
First-place winners will receive awards of up to $7,500. Final presentations before a panel of judges will be held April 6 (2014) at 3 p.m. in the college’s Lenfest Theater; judging will be open to the public. Student winners will also have the opportunity to live on campus during the summer to start work on their projects with faculty mentors.
The center also is charged with continuing the Ursinus U-Inspire! Speaker Series, which has sponsored alumni visits and speakers throughout the fall. Its next guest, Anne Beiler – founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels – will lecture Jan. 29 (Wednesday) at 7 p.m. in Lenfest on the East Main Street campus. It also is free and open to the public.
Additionally, it is working on a U-Initiate! program to connect students with community projects.
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