Waynesburg University is poised to instill a culture of innovation within its campus community with the launch of an entrepreneurial leadership center.

The university last week opened the eHIVE, an Entrepreneurial Hub for Innovative Ventures and Endeavors, which will provide venture creation coaching and host events to foster the entrepreneurial mindset, creativity and innovation among interested students.

“At their core, I really think entrepreneurs are problem solvers, and since problems exist all across the campus and in all disciplines that we study, we wanted to have a centralized center where students could come and identify and solve the problems that they see in the world around them,” said Dr. Melinda Walls, chairwoman of the W. Robert Stover Entrepreneurial Leadership Program and the director of The Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

Located on the second floor of the Stover Campus Center on the university’s main campus in Waynesburg, the eHIVE is available to all Waynesburg students regardless of major. The center will give students an outlet for creative ideas and will help to equip them with important skills for successful entrepreneurial leadership, such as critical thinking, proactive and innovative problem solving, and a bias toward action, Walls said.

“Waynesburg University already has a very strong mission of faith, service and learning. Our goal is to build on this mission by encouraging all students to think and act entrepreneurially,” said Walls, who will lead the eHIVE.

“The goal is to have our students think and do, and the eHIVE will allow them to help move their ideas forward from concept into reality,” said Walls.

The center will work with students in two distinct ways: by providing one-on-one coaching for individual student ideas, and by offering a series of lectures, workshops and competitions to spur innovation and entrepreneurial creativity.

The result could be innovative products or services that spark a for-profit business, or an idea for social change that starts a nonprofit enterprise, said Walls. Perhaps a student’s work would help an existing organization perform better, she said.

The eHIVE’s first event will be a campus-wide innovation challenge — “Turn Nothing Into Something” — to be held over five days starting later this month. Awarding cash prizes to each member of the winning team, the competition asks participants to produce innovative concepts for a yet-to-be-announced ordinary object.

Walls joined Waynesburg at the beginning of August following work as assistant vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation at West Virginia University.

“I’ve had the good fortune of working in entrepreneurship education for quite some time and I have colleagues from across the country, and I know that many of them lobby and work for years to find a campus-wide center.

“To have this university, on Day 1, provide the space here in the heart of the Student Center is really, really a remarkable thing and a testament to the importance of this program and the vision and the future of the university,” said Walls.

Waynesburg University’s W. Robert Stover Chair for Entrepreneurial Leadership, a faculty position, was endowed through a recent $2 million gift from the Stover Foundation, which was the lead gift in the university’s O.A.K.S. (Opportunity and Knowledge Strengthened) Campaign.

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