Stapleton Appointed Director of Center for Entrepreneurial Studies



April 9, 2008 – Dr. James Stapleton, assistant professor of business and marketing education in Southeast’s Donald L. Harrison College of Business, has been appointed as director of the University’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

The Center for Entrepreneurial Studies leads the advancement of entrepreneurship education and practice, Stapleton said, through the development of teaching, research and outreach initiatives that inspire entrepreneurial and innovative thinking, cultivate entrepreneurial leadership in organizations, provide opportunities and support for students from all walks of life to create an enterprise from the ground up, and improve regional economic growth and global competitiveness.

“The study of entrepreneurship on university campuses has expanded significantly over the past few years, in large part, because of the increasing appreciation for the contribution entrepreneurs make to our economic growth and global competitiveness,” said Dr. Gerald McDougall, dean of the Harrison College of Business.

“I am extremely excited about the initiatives the Harrison business faculty have undertaken in the area of entrepreneurship recently. Any student attending Southeast can complete an upper-division course in entrepreneurship or pursue a fully developed minor in entrepreneurship that complements any major,” McDougall said. “Dr. Stapleton has played a critical role in these initiatives, and I am pleased that he is willing to accept the leadership in moving these initiatives forward while continuing to grow and develop the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

“He brings more than 10 years of practical experience to this position, as well as a strong academic foundation that integrates workforce development with innovation and new venture creation,” he added. “I’m confident that over the next few years the Harrison College of Business will put into play additional initiatives that will bring recognition to Southeast Missouri State University for having an energetic and creative entrepreneurship program.”

The new initiatives include innovative programs like a Start-Up Cafe, an online network and resource for students worldwide who are interested in entrepreneurship. Stapleton played a pivotal role in establishing Southeast’s membership in the program, which will be unveiled during the fall 2008 semester.

“The Start-Up Café is a network of international business schools that provides physical and virtual space for students interested in entrepreneurship to ‘meet, drink and think,’” he said. “Southeast was selected as the host institution and first Start-Up Café in the United States.

“The physical space, located in Dempster Hall, will give Southeast students the opportunity to collaborate with others interested in entrepreneurship and explore the virtual space on new computer kiosks,” Stapleton said. “In the virtual space, students will have an opportunity to collaborate with entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship students in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, South Africa, Colombia, France and Switzerland, as well as additional sites that are added continually.

“The Start-Up Café is a great opportunity for Southeast students interested in entrepreneurship to begin exploring the global marketplace, collaborate with international peers, and learn about the unique nature and importance of entrepreneurship in other countries around the globe,” Stapleton added.

The Student Entrepreneurship, Southeast Apprentice Program, a business plan competition which Stapleton oversees, offers another innovative method for students interested in entrepreneurship to learn the ropes. The program, a year-long competition, allows students to submit business concepts that are reviewed by an outside panel of business experts, according to Stapleton. Students whose proposals are chosen for the competition participate in a new course in entrepreneurship and ultimately submit business plans to the panel for final evaluation. Winners of the competition receive mini grants and free office space in the Southeast Innovation Center’s business incubator.

Stapleton’s initial duties as director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies also have included working with McDougall and Harrison College of Business department chairs and faculty to update the Center’s strategic plan.

“There is a series of very exciting initiatives under way,” Stapleton said. “We have developed and are offering a new interdisciplinary entrepreneurship course and a new minor, available to all Southeast students in any major. There also is a new management major option in entrepreneurship that is available to business students, a new entrepreneurship student organization available to all Southeast students, and many other initiatives being planned for the 2008-2009 academic year.”

Stapleton hopes to continue to extend the reach of the Center to better serve all students at Southeast.

“Entrepreneurs come from all walks of life, so I am very excited to work with others in the University to make sure every student interested in entrepreneurship, regardless of the discipline they are studying, has an opportunity to achieve their career goals,” he said. “Whether a student dreams of starting a new business or understands the importance of being more entrepreneurial in their work for an existing organization, I want to work with others in our community to make sure they are provided opportunities and support.”

He plans to continue extending the Center’s reach throughout the southeast Missouri region as well.

“Our region, and many others throughout the United States, faces significant challenges and opportunities in the new economy,” Stapleton said. “Our students need to understand the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship in the global economy. Not only does the region need entrepreneurs to create new businesses, we need these businesses to be innovative and durable in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. We need to inspire and train entrepreneurship students and leaders to reach beyond simple service business concepts and provide them tools to create enterprises that make significant long-term contributions to the regional economy. I hope through the Center’s initiatives we can play a role in efforts to ensure the future prosperity and quality of life in our region,” he added.

Stapleton has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses in business education, technology, and entrepreneurship at Southeast since 2006. He has 10 years of entrepreneurial and business development experience in a variety of market sectors, including retail, manufacturing, and telecommunications and information technology services. His academic career includes more than seven years of secondary and postsecondary career and technical education teaching experience. Stapleton earned his doctorate in workforce education and development from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. He also earned a master of business administration degree and a master of science degree in business education from Southern New Hampshire University, and a bachelor of science degree in organizational management and leadership from Friends University.

Stapleton was preceded as director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies by Jack Sterrett, professor of marketing in the Harrison College of Business.