Miami U. president to Congress: All students need entrepreneurial skills

Miami University President Gregory Crawford recently testified before a U.S. Congressional Committee on Small Business on the programs and emphasis the Butler County school places on cultivating entrepreneurial skills among all its students. Miami is regularly lauded by national publications and studies as one of the top producers of business executives in America.

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Miami University President Gregory Crawford recently testified before a U.S. Congressional Committee on Small Business on the programs and emphasis the Butler County school places on cultivating entrepreneurial skills among all its students. Miami is regularly lauded by national publications and studies as one of the top producers of business executives in America.

In many ways all Miami University students are also students of entrepreneurial skills, the president of the Butler County university told Congressional leaders recently.

Miami University President Gregory Crawford traveled to the nation’s capital last week to testify to members of the U.S. House Small Business Committee to discuss the role his school – and others across the nation – must play in expanding entrepreneurship in America.

Miami has much to offer in this burgeoning arena, Crawford told lawmakers, with officials at the school estimating close to 1,500 alumni are founders or co-founders of business.

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“The entrepreneurial mindset is as vital for success in the 21st century as the pioneering mindset in the 19th century and the manufacturing mindset in the 20th,” Crawford testified.

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“Miami’s universal approach to entrepreneurship exceeds the conventional higher education mindset on experiential learning. We believe there is no substitute for the messy, complex, sometimes risky, tension-filled aspect of the compromise-driven world of real business and value creation,” Crawford told the committee, whose Chairman is U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati.

“No classroom can replicate real projects, with real stakes that require real results. This approach has transformed our traditional internships into interactive apprenticeships where students make quantifiable contributions to the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” he said.

Miami’s Redhawk Ventures (RV) is one of the few student-run venture capital funds in the nation, he said.

It invests up to $25,000 of university assets into selected student and alumni businesses. Members of RV have the opportunity to work through the entire venture funding process, ranging from business plan presentations to term sheets to growing new and innovative businesses.

Crawford said $2.1 billion in venture funding has been raised by Miami-affiliated high-growth companies since 2011. And 94 Miami-affiliated high-growth companies have exited through acquisition since 2011.

The university, which is Butler County’s largest employer, is regularly cited among the nation’s top institutions of higher learning when it comes to producing business leaders.

Besides its main Oxford campus, Miami also has regional campuses in Hamilton and Middletown and a Learning Center at the Voice of America Park in West Chester Township.

There are intangible benefits beyond making money for students and recent graduates in adopting an entrepreneurial mindset, regardless of their college major, Crawford told legislators.

“There is also a certain intangible beauty about the entrepreneurial mindset. No matter what your major, whether you become a doctor, congresswomen, social worker, scientist, teacher, that mindset empowers you with the capacity to accept failure with optimism rather than discouragement; the intellectual courage to try something no one else in the world has tried; the unity to gather a team and translate an idea from concept to product,” he said.

“No matter what field you choose to pursue after graduation, optimism, courage, and unity are personal virtues all employers and industries value,” said Crawford.

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