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Communications and Marketing

Trish Thomas named top entrepreneurship professor in Illinois

Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program Patricia “Trish” Thomas was named Illinois Entrepreneurship Professor of the Year by Future Founders at the 2nd Annual EntrepreneurshipU Awards on April 20 at the Chicago Connectory in the Merchandise Mart.

The EntrepreneurshipU Awards celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation at Illinois universities. The event recognized institutions from across the state that have demonstrated exceptional entrepreneurial accomplishments, awarding representatives from 10 different Illinois colleges and universities, including Lake Forest College, Northwestern, Loyola, UIC, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

“EntrepreneurshipU gives us the opportunity to recognize some of the game changers in the Illinois entrepreneurial ecosystem who are pushing the boundaries of innovation to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs,” said Scott Issen, President & CEO, Future Founders. 

Since joining the College in the fall of 2018 as the new director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, Thomas has been committed to making the program the leading liberal arts entrepreneurship program in the Midwest. Under Thomas’ leadership, Foresters participated in the esteemed global entrepreneurship competitions, including the Values and Ventures business plan competition at Texas Christian University and the Prince0ton Ideathon. 

“Future Founders is an amazing organization. They are making a huge difference for young entrepreneurs. I am so honored to be recognized by a group of change makers I respect so much,” Thomas said. “The breadth of the awards is a great reminder of the power of the innovation ecosystems in Chicago and in Illinois.”

Professor of Economics and Business and Chair of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program Rob Lemke is not surprised Thomas received the honor.

“Under her leadership, our students are competing in national entrepreneurship competitions, we have a new and innovative curriculum, unbelievable adjuncts have joined the team, and now this—our new director is recognized as the top in the state,” Lemke said.  

Check out the complete list of the 2018 EntrepreneurshipU Award winners:

Entrepreneurship Professor of the Year

  • Patricia Thomas, Lake Forest College
  • Honorable Mention: Omar Sweiss, Trinity Christian College

Outstanding Student Startups of the Year

  • Above the Waves, Trinity Christian College
  • Inigo, Loyola University
  • PedalCell, Northwestern University
  • SnapClips, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Southern Illinois Metalworx, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Outstanding Entrepreneurial Mentors of the Year

  • Billy Banks, Northwestern University
  • Dennis Barsema, Northern Illinois University
  • Aaron Gillum, 50 South Capital

Entrepreneurial Student Leader of the Year

  • Gabriel Soler, Trinity Christian College
  • Honorable Mention: Ayush Kumar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Graduate Entrepreneurship Course of the Year

  • Jason Stephens & “Entrepreneurship & New Business Creation,” Columbia College Chicago

Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Course of the Year

  • Jeremy Gudauskas & “Social Impact Entrepreneurship,” North Central College

Top Collegiate Accelerator

  • Wildfire, Northwestern University

Social Entrepreneurship Initiative of the Year

  • Love Girls Magazine, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Honorable Mention: Dibbs, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Campus Entrepreneurial Event of the Year

  • ILC 100 Day Startup Challenge, University of Chicago

Entrepreneurship Club of the Year

  • CAUSE, Northern Illinois University

Future Founders Partner of the Year

  • Trinity Christian College