October 01, 2018

Entrepreneurship classes began meeting this fall in the Dr. Richard E. and Sally F. Caruso Mentoring and Innovation Center, a new space just opened in the Blough-Weis Library.

The new center integrates technology, teaching and real-world experience by providing a place where students, faculty and mentors can collaborate.

The center is funded through the Uncommon Individual Foundation Event Series and Innovation Program Endowment created by the Carusos to provide students the opportunity for experiential learning, mentoring and collaboration.

The mentoring and innovation center will be the hub of entrepreneurship education at Susquehanna. The space includes various white boards for brainstorming, a large, wall-mounted touchscreen, furniture that can be easily rearranged for team work, and games and puzzles to stimulate creativity. A highlight of the space is the Ideum Duet multi-touch coffee table, which is equipped with ultra-HD displays, 3MTM touch technology and an IntelTM i7 quad core computer.

The Carusos’ endowment will also support activities and events that help students exercise their entrepreneurial skill set-through alumni mentorship and open mic nights for entrepreneurial pitches or problem-solving sessions with local business owners. Finally, the center will be staffed on an intermittent basis by student-mentors meant to facilitate brainstorming and idea generation with other students.

“The Carusos envision activities that will make the university a cradle for natural mentoring activity,” says Mary Muolo, director of donor relations and stewardship. “Activities will consistently encourage students on the theme of becoming an entrepreneur of one’s own destiny in the pursuit of life, liberty and personal happiness. This is Richard’s philosophy in creating the Uncommon Individual Foundation.”

Emma Fleck, associate professor of management, describes the space as one that uses technology in an effective and collaborative way. The location for the center-outside the walls of the Sigmund Weis School of Business-is deliberate.

“Because most of our entrepreneurship classes are based in Apfelbaum Hall, we had very few students getting involved from majors outside of the business school,” Fleck says. “We wanted a place where all students across campus could feel welcome and engaged.”

“The mentoring and innovation center is indicative of the university’s recognition that entrepreneurship is important across all academic disciplines,” she says.

Sally Caruso graduated from Susquehanna in 1968 and Richard in 1965. Richard went on to earn his M.B.A. from Bucknell University and his Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. He has long credited his success in medical science to his liberal arts education and the mentors he encountered along the way.

As founder and co-chairman of Integra LifeSciences Corporation, Caruso created a company that introduced an entirely new field to medical science-regenerative medicine. The correlation between his success and the mentoring he received from Susquehanna football coaches James Garrett and Bob Pitello led him to create the Uncommon Individual Foundation in 1986 as a way to “mentor it forward,” to help individuals and organizations embrace the power of mentoring to achieve success.

The very first class to be taught in the space is Fleck’s Exploring Opportunities, an entry-level entrepreneurship course in which only about half of the students are business majors-a point of pride for Fleck.

“An entrepreneurial mindset is something that is imperative in all that we do,” Fleck says. “It’s imperative for life, not just starting one’s own business.”