The Oppenheimer Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (OC)
The new Oppenheimer Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (OC) is waiting for Foresters when we return to campus. Located on the second floor of the Donnelley and Lee Library, the OC is the place where students can literally and figuratively “Make it”! Students need only bring their curiosity, their drive, their ideas, and their vision and we’ll show them how to make those into new ventures.
The Oppenheimer Center named in honor of a gift from brothers Jim ’65, Harry ’66, and Ted Oppenheimer offers a vibrant new space on campus for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The OC features spaces for Foresters to think, do, and share, including open lounge and work areas for collaborative design and development, a flexible classroom, and co-working areas for students and faculty working on new ventures.
“Entrepreneurship and innovation happen when people identify problems worth solving and can effectively mobilize the people, resources and networks to solve them.” Co-Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program (ENTP) Patricia “Trish” Thomas said. “Our ENTP program and curriculum is designed to give students the context, knowledge, skills, and discipline to make change happen, and the OC gives them a place to work together to do it.”
Last fall, students in Thomas’ Entrepreneurial and Social Ventures I: Product Market Fit class used the ENTP curriculum to develop the programming requirements for the space which included shared workspaces, a classroom that can convert to a public presentation space, video conferencing screens, designated workspaces for students pursuing real-world ventures, and a great deal of sound-absorbing material. Based on the student research, Mary Beth Rampolla, Founder and President of Viro Design Lab, brought the students' vision and research to life in her design for the OC.
Then, Rampolla, Thomas, and Adam Cortright, Facilities Management Associate Director, brought in Forward Space to assist with furniture selection and specification, and Valenti Builders to construct the space. “The Oppenheimer Center is a refreshing update for the College,” Cortright said. “The colors are vibrant! The furniture and space are flexible enough to accommodate many different functions of teaching and events. I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project with Trish (Thomas), Kate (Jackson) and their team of students and contractors for this much needed space on campus.”
“The OC offers students a central place on campus to collaborate and connect with each other, faculty, mentors, entrepreneurs, and community stakeholders,” Kate Jackson, the CoDirector of ENTP, said. “The OC is the ideal setting for ENTP classes which are experiential, team-based, and highly interactive. Students can come here to imagine, get creative, build, and pitch their ideas.”
“Entrepreneurship is the #1 minor at the College, and more than 14% of Foresters take ENTP courses. Our vision for the OC is that it will become a connection point on campus for students, and faculty, from all areas of study - because change requires collaboration among people with diverse skills, interests, and perspectives,” Chair of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Professor of Economics Amanda Felkey said.
The OC will make it possible for students and faculty to contribute to each other, customize the space to their team needs, and succeed by collaborating with each other and with faculty and community mentors.
And what do students think of the OC?
“Holy Cow! It looks amazing! I can see how much all our work in class [ENTP 270] helped to create the space,” Hunter DePorter ’20 said.
For more Oppenheimer Center photos, see our October newsletter.