Michèle Leaman

Michèle works with faculty, administrators, and students to change complex institutional systems to become more supportive environments for social entrepreneurship and changemaking.

Lessons Learned: How To Leverage An Ashoka Fellow On Your Campus

Marquette University joined Ashoka U as a Changemaker Campus in 2010. Over the course of the past year, their Faculty Champion, Jeff Snell, has worked with Ashoka U to help drive Marquette’s social entrepreneurship initiatives. One of the very first things that Marquette did was bring an Ashoka Fellow to campus as a part of the Changemaker Campus Program.

Kevin Pujanaski, is a student from the University of Virginia who is leading the effort to bring an Ashoka Fellow to campus in the fall of 2011. Kevin spoke with Jeff recently to get some insights on how to best leverage the Social Entrepreneur in Residence to have to most impact across campus.

What UVA can learn from Marquette
One of the best things about the world of social entrepreneurship is that, in my experience, people are so genuinely willing to share their experiences and lessons learned with you. Speaking with Jeff Snell at Marquette University was a great example of this. He gave both high-level strategies and concrete suggestions for how to make the most out of the Social Entrepreneur in Residence program.

Steering in the right direction
My conversation with Jeff highlighted the importance of strategy in getting the most “bang for the buck” out of the program—coming up with goals for the visit is essential. We’ve identified three key goals: lock in nascent support from faculty members; further the existing groundswell of student interest; and highlight where and how social entrepreneurship can fit into a university setting.

Above and beyond using the visit to garner faculty support, both Jeff and Ashoka U helped us think about ways to extend the impact beyond just the days of the visit. Jeff highlighted the value of documentation, which we will use not only to share the lessons learned but also to prove that there is demand for social entrepreneurship at our university. Ashoka U helped us think about the program as the beginning of a continuous and meaningful collaboration with our Ashoka Fellow in Residence

Running a tight ship
Jeff emphasized that in order to have the most impact during the Residency, we will need to equip the Fellow with crucial pieces of information regarding the culture of UVA and the institutional challenges we face in order to enable him or her to succeed. He also recommended targeting the classes that will best fulfill the goals of the visit, and perhaps combining classes that occur at the same time to maximize outreach. Finally, he recommended creating a welcoming committee to extend both hospitality and guidance to the Fellow at every point during the visit. We’re taking these suggestions to heart and have already designated a group of six students to work diligently on this over the summer.

Getting the word out
The final aspect of Social Entrepreneur in Residence that Jeff focused on was the importance of getting the word out about the visit. A successful marketing campaign will emphasize potential connections to local and global current events in addition to employing specific language that will resonate the most with the UVA community. For example, for Marquette’s SE-in-Res, Jeff used the term “social innovation” instead of social Entrepreneurship. At UVA, our hunch is that such a term sounds a bit more politically charged in the South, and that aligning ourselves with the burgeoning interest in entrepreneurship at the university will help us gain traction.

The bottom line
After speaking with Jeff we realized that if we end up planning an “in-and-out” lecture that is just another event on the already cluttered University calendar, we’re doing ourselves and our fellow students a disservice. Jeff pushed us to start thinking now about how we can use the Social Entrepreneur in Residence to create the most impact at UVA. Check back in the fall of 2011 to hear how our SE in Res went!

To learn more about activities relating to social entrepreneurship at Marquette, check our Marquette student, Matt Barr’s TEDxAshokaU talk.

About Kevin Pujanauski

Kevin Pujanauski is entering his 4th year at the University of Virginia, majoring in Politics Honors and Global Development Studies. As the President of the organization Student Entrepreneurs for Economic Development, he is working with his fellow students to make a lasting increase in the extracurricular and curricular offerings related to social entrepreneurship.

About Jeff Snell

Jeff Snell serves as Special Advisor to the President of Marquette University