Cynthia West, Ph.D., a serial entrepreneur with decades of experience in technology start-ups, will lead the Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship & Business Ethics, a center associated with Chapman University’s Argyros School of Business and Economics.
The program boasts over 14 courses and 10 faculty members and offers students a minor or emphasis in entrepreneurship. In her new role, West plans to re-invigorate the center’s incubator program for student startups. The center’s 7,000 square foot space offers startups workspaces to collaborate with professors and mentors on their business ideas.
Starting this fall, the center will host events, competitions, and startup cohort programs that support entrepreneurs at Chapman and the wider community.
“Our vision is to inspire, educate and empower the next generation of talent to have an entrepreneurial mindset,” West said. “The center’s mission is to provide students with hands-on experience, helping them to innovate, take risks and solve the world’s most challenging problems.” Students can cultivate an idea for a business and prepare for an accelerator program, or to launch an organically grown business.
As entrepreneurship is an interdisciplinary collaboration, West is inviting all of the schools at Chapman to participate in the center’s events, as well as be a part of a startup team. “The gig economy and culture of side hustles mean that more people will embark on some type of entrepreneurial venture, whether they are a film, engineering, law, pharmacy, or business student, they can benefit from entrepreneurial knowledge,” West stated.
The Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship will focus on the UN Sustainability Development Goals of: quality education, gender equity, underserved communities, and partnerships. “As only 2.8% of all venture capital goes to female founders, we want to prepare women to compete more effectively for these funds,” West said. “As Chapman is focused on helping the 17% student base that are first-generation university students, we will provide opportunities for traditionally underserved communities as well.”
Raised in an academic household, West’s role is a return to an original dream of working in academia. Her career, including her work as a public speaker and published author, highlights the important intersection of ethics and technology.
Henrik Cronqvist, Ph.D., dean of the Argyros School of Business and Economics, looks forward to the center’s next chapter under West’s leadership.
“Cynthia’s deep experience as an entrepreneur, as well as her enthusiasm and energy, will help us advance and nurture the entrepreneurial skills of the next generation. I look forward to strengthening the entrepreneurship program for students, alumni and the startup community.”
About Chapman University
Founded in 1861, Chapman University is California’s third largest private university. Chapman is categorized by the Carnegie Classification as an R2 “high research activity” institution and offers personalized education to more than 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The campus has produced a Rhodes Scholar, been named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars and hosts a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society. Based in the City of Orange, Chapman also includes the Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus in Irvine. In 2019, the university opened its 11th college, Fowler School of Engineering, in its newest facility, Keck Center for Science and Engineering. Learn more about Chapman University: www.chapman.edu.