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McNair Center: Teaching the Art of Entrepreneurship

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Buoyed by gifts totaling more than $1.5 million from The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, along with a dynamic new director, Dr. Patrick Woock, the UST McNair Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship is poised to continue developing leaders through robust academic offerings, mentorship programs and experiential learning.

“The McNair Center is the engine for tomorrow’s growth,” Woock said. “Here, we support our students’ entrepreneurial and spiritual development, while giving them crucial tools to make a difference in their communities. Students take

eye-opening journeys in classes like Zero to Hero, Personal Finance and E-Commerce.”

The Center exists to promote education and research into the free enterprise system, entrepreneurship and enhanced economic growth.

“Under Dr. Woock’s leadership, we are excited to see the McNair Center educate a new generation of entrepreneurial leaders who have the right skills and understand how the system forms the basis of economic opportunity and prosperity in our country,” Kristi Cooper, executive director of The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, said.

Led by Experience

Woock recently served as assistant professor of Cultural Entrepreneurship at University of Minnesota. His international teaching experience includes posts in China and Mexico. Prior to teaching, he built ETT Investments (private equity) in China and served as director for SCORE in Minnesota. Woock earned a Ph.D. in Management Science and Engineering with an emphasis on international entrepreneurship in 2015 from the University of Science and Technology in China.

Academic Programs

The McNair Center offers Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship programs.

  • Undergraduates, the Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship minor is tailored to each student’s major.
  • Graduates, the Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship concentration is offered as part of the MBA program.
  • Certificate program in Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship will be offered by the Center.

Inaugural Intro to Entrepreneurship Class

This fall, Woock offered his first Intro to Entrepreneurship class. UST junior Omar Al-Eisa, who is majoring in finance and economics, is considering a minor in entrepreneurship. “I am currently starting a business, and I took the Intro to Entrepreneurship class to receive guidance and insight,” he said. “Dr. Woock has given me new ideas for success and offered resources based on my needs.”

BOLD IDEAS Pitch Competition

In addition to academic offerings, students have opportunities to make their entrepreneurial ideas viable through programs like the UST BOLD IDEAS Pitch Competition. Held annually, alumni, local entrepreneurs and venture capitalists serve as judges. Students enter their ideas in the relevant for-profit or not-for-profit tracks to win $2,000, $3,000 or $5,000.

Speakers’ Series

Woock also invites entrepreneurs to his classes to offer tips on how to become a successful entrepreneur. This fall Dr. Ken Buckle ’83, Jennifer Rocha ’20 and April Petronella ’01 visited to share their roads to success.  

For more information, visit stthom.edu/McNairCenter

About the Author — Sandra Soliz, MLA 01

AvatarSandra Soliz, director of Communications for University of St. Thomas, has served the University for 20 years in Marketing Communications Department. In her position, she handles media relations and serves as the editor of the Encounter Magazine.

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