Built on the blood-soaked sod of a former slave plantation, and established in 1896, Oakwood University is the singular Seventh-day Adventist Historically Black College/University, in Huntsville, Alabama. For just over 125 years, this illustrious institution has molded the lives of young and old, educationally, physically, and spiritually. Guided by the motto, "God First!", Oakwood University faculty, staff and administration impart knowledge and information, to empower students who "Enter to Learn," to "Depart to Serve".
Promoting Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship
On a large scale, facilities to promote the increase of innovation and entrepreneurship on campus are lacking. In recent years, however, Oakwood University has developed into an innovation friendly space. Thanks to Julian Waddell, Entrepreneurship as a minor with select entrepreneurship classes have been incorporated into the School of Business and Information. Moreover, across campus, administration has implored to think outside the box and create new ideas for the running of the school. Unfortunately, not much innovation is actually seen in practice, and is still on the very steady increase.
As it relates to entrepreneurship, several students across campus start their own businesses to help facilitate their tuition payments, and to get a head start for their future careers. The Oakwood University Launchpad (IG: @oulauchpad) is available to facilitate students' pathway to entrepreneurship, offering support, advice, and guidance. This facility was opened (opening) in 2021 and allows for students to explore the world of entrepreneurship with faculty who are trained to support and encourage. Though this practice of entrepreneurship is not heavily widespread among, it is indeed present, and facilities are available for students to access. (Oulauchpadwebsite)
Encouraging Faculty Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Generally speaking, faculty is encouraged to pursue the highest level of academic as a large percentage of the faculty are either at the Master level or PhD level. Typically, faculty members strive to apply the theories and concepts taught in their programs to make improvements to faculty relations, curriculum development, and graduate level training. In these instances, faculty is encouraged to pursue innovation and expand the present way of operation.
Despite this, there is a noticeable lack of innovation within the classroom setting. Unless in lab classes, students usually must endure lecture-style tutelage, and are called upon to regurgitate the information periodically in quizzes and examinations.
Actively supporting the university technology transfer function
In addition to the OU Launchpad or Entrepreneurship Center, an E-Sports Lab was also created to facilitate the practice of entrepreneurship among interested students on campus. Here, a vlog shows the launch of the E-Sports Lab, and insights into the purpose and use of the space. Gaming computer systems were installed to encourage students to employ entrepreneurship and innovation for themselves in the virtual world. Though recent, the active support of these facilities is still yet to be seen. While students do access these facilities, more promotion must be done to ensure that students take full advantage of the resources that are available to them.
Facilitating university-industry collaboration
Next Gen HQ, a mentorship program, recently met with students at Oakwood University to offer advice and support to those students interested in creating their own entrepreneurial ventures. Mentors are established entrepreneurs who have made themselves available for students to ask questions and provide feedback about their business, where they may find funding and other resources to facilitate the smooth running of their business.
Engaging with regional and local economic development efforts
Several organizations like the Oakwood University chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (OU NAACP), and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) generally provide scholarships to students of various disciplines, so that they have access to the education that would equip them to increase their entrepreneurial potential.