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Putting the “E” in CWEL

Babson College President Leonard A. Schlesinger

Photo: Patrick O'Connor

When launched in 2000, the Center for Women’s Leadership was the first in the country to bring together research, education, mentoring, networking, and leadership development for women in the business world. Its leaders for the first 12 years—Nan Langowitz, Susan Danish, and Jan Shubert—brought the center to where it is today.

This spring, the center has a new name, new leadership, and a new strategy. Now known as the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (CWEL), it is unlike any other college or university women’s center. Its recently appointed leaders—Susan Duffy, executive director, and Marjorie Feld, faculty director and associate professor of history—are working together to build on the center’s reputation and take it forward. The center’s strategic vision is to become a living and learning laboratory where the Entrepreneurial Thought and Action cycle—opportunities to act, build, and learn—takes place. I’m already impressed by Susan and Marjorie’s commitment to stimulate energy and ideas on campus around women’s entrepreneurship and foster a gender-enlightened campus for women and men.

Innovative initiatives are under way with an emphasis on signature learning experiences (SLEs), hands-on projects that put theory into practice, for both undergraduate and graduate students. Unique to Babson and underpinned by the pedagogy of The New Entrepreneurial Leader, SLEs draw on the expertise of Babson faculty. Additionally, the undergraduate mentoring program has been expanded, and the graduate mentoring program will be extended through virtual programming in the fall. The center also supports students who attend off-campus events and build personal networks, bringing new ideas and contacts back to campus and creating blogs to share what they’ve learned.

Facilitating the sharing of pedagogy and research also is high on the CWEL agenda. Starting with a research luncheon, followed by a new Blackboard site, the center plans to generate enthusiasm and promote collaboration on campus.

As with any entrepreneurial venture, the center is going to take some steps, use the resources at hand, figure out how to proceed, learn from the experience, and take the next steps. The best way to teach entrepreneurship is to live it, and CWEL is off to a great start.

Leonard A. Schlesinger

Leonard A. Schlesinger