By MacKenzie Herring
The Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) discussed the possibility of introducing an entrepreneurship minor and its effects on the school’s budget in the meetings on both Oct. 19 and 26. ASLC President Marissa Valdez ’18 also relayed information about the school’s endowment and tuition increases.
During the first meeting, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship Samir Parikh proposed a possible entrepreneurial studies minor to ASLC in an effort to elicit representative support from the student body. The minor must be passed by a majority in the curriculum committee, then be approved by the full faculty.
If the resolution is approved, the minor could be in place as early as the fall 2018 semester. A formal request will be sent to the curriculum committee by the end of the month, but before its submission, Parikh wanted to demonstrate student approval by reaching out to ASLC at their meeting.
“One big thing that resonates, as you guys can imagine, is when the current students say, ‘we want this program,’” Parikh said.
The minor would involve four coursework classes, one elective and additional extracurricular requirements. It would require students to attend Winterim, a week-long entrepreneurial competition, and one workshop that is hosted by the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN). Additionally, the students would need to have one lunch with a leader from the department and find one internship through the Center for Entrepreneurship.
Parikh believes the minor would help students find employment after LC and would serve as a connection to businesses and corporations in the area.
“(Many) students wonder, ‘when I come to Lewis & Clark, when I graduate will I have a job?’” Parikh said. “Also, more fundamentally, ‘am I going to be able to do the things I want to do?’”
Parikh concludes that developing an entrepreneurship minor will help the low enrollment rates at LC that are affecting the school’s budget.
“A lot of students are looking for this program, and because we don’t have it or don’t feature it, it hurts our enrollment,” Parikh said. “Every other prominent liberal arts college is doing this, they are way ahead of us. To a certain extent, they’ve had these centers up and running for years, we’re playing catch-up.”
ASLC Vice President Zack Johnson ’19 later confirmed the school’s recent difficulty in receiving the revenue needed from tuition.
“They usually shoot for 550 million in revenue from tuition,” Johnson said. “This next year’s (goal) is 542 million last years was 580. They haven’t met it the last three years.”
In the following week’s meeting, ASLC passed a resolution confirming their support for the entrepreneurship program. The resolution passed unanimously and was sent to the appropriate committees.
The topic of budgetary issues stemming from low enrollment rates at LC came up again as Valdez discussed information relayed by high level faculty.
“We budgeted for 111 more students than (who) came,” Valdez said. “That’s the tuition of 111 students. That’s why our budget is so constrained this year.”
According to Valdez, despite the school’s comparatively smaller endowment, the tuition rate increases are, on average, on par or lower for colleges of our size and standing. She also said that President Wim Wiewel has LC in a capital campaign to assist the endowment.
Valdez also cited a new admissions strategy aimed at lowering the dropout and transfer rates at LC. The approach is called strategic enrollment and is being implemented in hopes of better selecting students who are going to stay and graduate from the school.
“(They are) trying to learn more about the people who actually end up staying at LC to better inform our decisions on who we let in and where we advertise,” Valdez said.
Over the last two weeks, ASLC has focused heavily on the proposed entrepreneurship minor in relation to the school’s budget and other approaches taken to assist the school’s financial situation. Throughout the rest of the semester, ASLC will continue to maintain communication with various faculty members and keep tabs on the entrepreneurial center’s progress in creating this major.