Submitted by University of Puget Sound
University of Puget Sound is turning out entrepreneurs at such rate that a leading U.S. business magazine has named it one of the “Top 20 Most Entrepreneurial Colleges” in the country.
A new analysis by “Forbes” magazine selected 50 colleges and 50 universities that it deemed to have the most impressive track records for graduating students who become entrepreneurs. The rankings are based on the total number of graduates who identify themselves as founders and business owners on networking site LinkedIn, divided by the school’s student body.
Puget Sound is the only college in the Pacific Northwest named in the top 20 college list, and it is one of only two Washington State institutions named among the top 100 colleges and universities (the other is University of Washington). The lists will appear in “Forbes”’ August 16 issue.
Puget Sound’s success in this realm may be partly due to its special programs and opportunities emphasizing entrepreneurial skills and thinking. But more importantly, the college believes it arises from a liberal arts educational experience that encourages students to think creatively, to critically assess ideas and opportunities, and to pursue initiatives to the utmost of an individual’s potential. Many prestigious liberal arts colleges appear in the top 50 college list — a list which also includes professional schools and small research universities.
The Puget Sound campus has a long legacy of high-achieving alumni. Some of the younger entrepreneurs — several of them recently in the news — include Jesse Proudman ’07, who just sold his Blue Box cloud computing business to IBM; Nicolas Cary ’07, cofounder of Bitcoin currency business Blockchain; Ryan Payton ’03, who launched video games innovator Camouflaj; Jordan Hanssen ’04 and Greg Spooner BA ’01, DPT’10, OAR Northwest rowing expeditions executives; Billy Smith ’07, cofounder of recreational firm Sporting-Sails; Dan Abrams ’00, a founder of FlyLow Gear ski apparel and equipment; Brett Veerhusen ’08, cofounder of The Real Alaska media production company, and Benjamin Anderstone ’13, partner of consultancy Progressive Strategies NW.
One campus program that prepares students for an entrepreneurial career is the Business Leadership Program, which offers an unusual blend of academic coursework in business with liberal arts studies. Directed by Professor Nila Wiese, it involves a cohort of up to 25 selected students each year in mentorships, job shadowing, internships, business networking, field trips, and business lectures, as well as studies of business fundamentals.
The Tacoma Entrepreneur Network (TEN) is another novel resource, launched in 2011 by Associate Professor of Business and Leadership Lynnette Claire. The network holds many events each year for students from local colleges and universities, involving them in business plan and start-up competitions, company field trips, and networking dinners with local entrepreneurs.
A new initiative expected to encourage yet more students to take pioneering career routes is the “experiential education” effort backed by the Mellon Foundation. Students will be offered the tools and advice to integrate “real-world” learning into their four years of education from a menu of existing and new programs, while faculty advisors and Career and Employment Services will get extra support in helping students incorporate compatible experiences into their academic programs.
Students also can take classes in entrepreneurship through the School of Business and Leadership. There are clubs such as the Puget Sound Investment Club and Puget Sound Marketing Group, and students can take part in Four Horsemen Investments, a hands-on, philanthropic 501(c)(3) organization for practicing peer-to-peer lending, led by Professor Lynda Livingston.
Graduates who complete their four years at Puget Sound having gained the skills and mindset of entrepreneurs also benefit from the campus community’s deep-rooted emphasis on higher education as something that students “do,” not that they “get.” The campus is replete with opportunities to take leadership roles, to build creative and supportive relationships, to undertake independent research, and to gain knowledge spanning numerous disciplines — allowing graduates to apply their knowledge in ways that may surprise, and that often inspires, others in their field.