Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Dr. Eden Blair, assistant professor of entrepreneurship, interacts with a student during her class on entrepreneurship–Business Management and Administration 382.

By Frank Radosevich II
September 14, 2012

In 1970, Dr. Gerald Hills had nine students asking for academic credit to work with several small businesses. It was an odd request since most business schools at the time focused exclusively on large corporations.

But Dr. Hills granted the request and the ensuing experience showed him the critical importance small businesses and entrepreneurs play in the economy.

“At the end of that semester, I felt like I had learned more than the students and the business owners,” said Dr. Hills, the Turner Chair of Entrepreneurship and a pioneer in entrepreneurial education. “There is a tremendous need to encourage students to learn about new and small enterprises.”

Now Bradley is fulfilling that growing need through its creation of the Robert and Carolyn Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The school is a stand-alone academic unit, a first in the nation, open to Bradley students in all disciplines.

Whereas other entrepreneurship institutions restrict entry to certain majors or are housed in a specific college, the Turner School encourages students throughout the University to join.

“When you look at entrepreneurship endeavors at other universities, they’re typically connected to a center that’s housed in the college of business,” said Ken Klotz, the Turner School’s managing director. “This is vastly different and, because of its stand-alone nature, the school is open for everyone.”

Dr. Hills, who will serve as the executive director of the Turner School, said the new school will teach students how to start a business or social enterprise; network with colleagues, investors, employees and other stakeholders; evaluate opportunities and risks; develop products or services; and gain a global perspective on the business marketplace. The program will push students to think creatively and by seeking out untapped opportunities and identifying innovations that can be commercialized.

Hills recently was recognized with the Karl Vesper Pioneer Award given annually to a significant person in the entrepreneurship discipline, who has overcome obstacles in advancing entrepreneurship within the academic environment and who has pioneered significant change in the field.

The Turner School is welcoming its first students this semester and the school plans to offer a minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and an Entrepreneurship Scholar Program.

Both require entrepreneurial courses and elective classes, while the Scholar Program, similar to Bradley’s Global Scholars Program, offers credit for specific experiential activities. Some activities may include participating in the Project Springboard Business Plan Competition, creating a new enterprise, pitching a new business plan or studying abroad in an entrepreneurial environment.

The school is named in honor of the Turners, long-time supporters of Bradley who established the Robert and Carolyn Turner Center for Entrepreneurship in 2002. The Turner Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Foster College of Business Administration also is named in their honor.