By JONAH SVIHUS
LEWIS & CLARK College has announced changes to the Center for Entrepreneurship, including the new leadership of Amelia Wilcox, Academic Director for the Center of Entrepreneurship, and Rocky Campbell, Director of the Career Center. This leadership was announced to the student body on Sept. 28.
The co-curricular side of the program will be headed by Campbell. When asked about the Entrepreneurship program, Campbell spoke with excitement at the prospects of the future. “What the college is looking at is how we can best meet the needs of our students as well as what’s happening in the outside environment… The Entrepreneurship Center has a strong place in that fit,” he said.
He stresses the importance of making the Entrepreneurship program more accessible to students by “building upon the quality programming that’s already in place and the quality academic courses that we already have.”
Campbell hopes to bolster the Dinner with Nine Pioneers program — which pairs alumni with students in an intimate and comfortable dinner discussion — and focus it on more entrepreneurial alumni, as well as entrepreneurial alumni from firms like Nike and and Intel.
While the new leadership is excited to start, there was a little ambiguity in the beginning of the semester of the direction the Center for Entrepreneurship.
Following this email, The Source published an article on Aug. 24 titled: “Career Center gains new space and new partnership with the Center for Entrepreneurship.” This article announced a new partnership between the Career Center and the Center for Entrepreneurship that will focus on “co-curricular initiatives” — something that hasn’t existed in prior years. The final acknowledgement in the article was the departure of Kaplan, who left the Center for Entrepreneurship to return to his “entrepreneurial pursuits beyond Lewis & Clark.”
Upon his departure from the Center for Entrepreneurship, Kaplan sent out a letter on August 27 to students, faculty, colleagues, and trustees acknowledging and emphasizing the importance of entrepreneurial thinking in the liberal arts.
In the letter, Kaplan attributed the success of the Entrepreneurship program to “the intentional, close partnership between [his] role, as the Managing Director, and the role of the Academic Director. Together [they] created a truly unique hub of learning and action…”
Kaplan declined to state anything more than what was mentioned in the letter he sent throughout the Lewis & Clark community.
The dynamic that Kaplan speaks of involved the chair of the psychology department, Professor Brian Detweiler-Bedell who was the Academic Director for the Entrepreneurship program before resigning in August 2015.
“I don’t have any details about the Center’s new direction beyond what appeared in The Source,” Detweiler-Bedell said. “I resigned as ongoing Academic Director after the Source article appeared and the Center for Entrepreneurship’s Managing Director position was eliminated.”
When Campbell discussed the leadership of the new Entrepreneurship program, he made things very clear: “I am not the replacement for Michael Kaplan. I am not Brian Detweiler-Bedell, but what I am is the face and the person that is responsible for the non-academic side.”
While the Entrepreneurship program was under the guidance of Kaplan and Detweiler-Bedell, two popular programs were created: the “Dinner with an Entrepreneur” events, and the “Mentor Connections” program, both of which connected Lewis & Clark students to successful entrepreneurs in Portland.
Esteban Valles (‘17), teaching assistant to Kaplan during the 2015 Winterim Entrepreneur Workshop, noted that “[Kaplan], together with Brian Detweiler-Bedell, created an amazing intellectual space for those creative and motivated people with a mind for business.”
Adding to the news of Kaplan’s departure, Dr. Kellar Autumn, Professor of Biology and former Academic Director of Entrepreneurship commented on the situation by email: “I have resigned as Academic Director of Entrepreneurship, and do not know any details about [the] future of the program. I am disappointed by the changes because they have disrupted a highly successful and unique academic program,” Autumn said in her email.
The current Lewis & Clark Center for Entrepreneurship website as of Sept. 29 has still not updated its faculty page. The only contact listed on the website is Campbell.