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UTPA hosts Entrepreneurship Speaker Series
Posted: 02/05/2008
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With a goal of increasing the quantity and quality of entrepreneurship education on its campus and in the community, The University of Texas-Pan American has launched the inaugural Entrepreneurship Speaker Series, which began Jan. 23.

The speaker series is a cross-disciplinary effort launched this spring 2008 semester by the UTPA Entrepreneurship Cluster, a group comprised of faculty from the Colleges of Business Administration and Science and Engineering as well as staff from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.

"The Entrepreneurship Cluster is a group committed to fostering entrepreneurship and innovation in South Texas. By bringing together engineering students and faculty developing new technology products and best practices for commercialization with business school students able to create viable business plans, we create an avenue for successful new ventures. We hope over time to expand the cluster membership to include all six colleges at the University, the UTPA Division of Community Engagement, South Texas College and others who recognize entrepreneurs as the engines of economic development in our community, state and country," said Dr. John Sargent, UTPA professor of management, who is heading the speaker series.

The speaker series features notable entrepreneurs and technology commercialization experts from the Rio Grande Valley as well as national and international speakers. While open to all students as well as the public, the series is also being held in conjunction with an MBA course at UTPA focused on new venture creation. Students in this course are able to meet with each speaker in a small group setting prior to each presentation.

The first speaker in the series was Edward Muñoz of Muñoz Investment Banking and a member of the UTPA Foundation Board. Muñoz and his brother recently started their own investment bank targeting Hispanic businesses in the United States and Latin America. Future series dates and speakers include:

Feb. 6 Robert Lozano, Dairy Queen franchisee

Feb. 20 Paul Posner, founder/owner of Pocket Communications

March 5 Ramiro Garza, Edinburg Development Corporation, and Keith Patridge, McAllen Economic Development Corporation

March 26 Jacquelyn Michel, UTPA director of Innovation and Intellectual Property

April 9 Tom Torkelson, founder of IDEA Public Schools

All presentations will be held from 7:10-8:25 p.m. in the UTPA Science Building, Room 2.102.

Sargent said the key objectives of the series were to create a greater awareness and appreciation of the role of entrepreneurship in fostering wealth creation and community development; to provide examples of successful entrepreneurs and examine the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing such a career; to reinforce and augment student learning from formal coursework and life experiences; and to learn about other UTPA and/or regional initiatives and activities supporting entrepreneurship and economic development, such as the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) project and the Rapid Response Manufacturing Center.

For more information about the series, contact Sargent via e-mail at jsargent@utpa.edu or call 956/316-7137.