Ozbun Chair Welcome Letter

Guy with arms crossed

In December 2022 I became the inaugural holder of the President Jim Ozbun Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship. The Ozbun Chair honors Dr. Jim Ozbun, who served as NDSU’s president from 1988 to 1995. It was established in 2016 thanks to a $4.5 million endowment established through the NDSU Foundation, with $1.5 million of the funds coming from the North Dakota Challenge Grant program.

As Ozbun Chair of Entrepreneurship, I quickly tried to start ‘practicing what I preach’ and acting entrepreneurially. I appointed a talented new Center Program Director – Cheryl Duvall, and together we began an entrepreneurial journey to advance our mission of empowering our students to create solutions with impact. With the help of another supportive and entrepreneurial donor, we launched a new program – “From Problems to Possibilities”. This program takes students of any discipline who have an interest in social and environmental change on a discovery process. It is designed to foster a systems thinking mindset among participants and encourages a learning-first approach to social change — one where people take the time to understand and build upon existing efforts before attempting something new. As well, we recently launched a course about managing family enterprises and another about social entrepreneurship and are working on developing some entrepreneurship programs that will involve and excite high school students.

One of my main missions when I took on the role of Ozbun Chair of Entrepreneurship was to support and expand our research activity. I am excited to have appointed three of our world-renowned faculty members as Center for Entrepreneurship and Family Business Research Fellows. Dr. Dan Hsu, Dr. Joshua Marineau, and Dr. Ahmad Al Asady are all working on a number of exciting new research projects. Additionally, this team is developing an annual entrepreneurship survey that we plan to distribute to entrepreneurs and small business owners across the state. This survey will provide valuable information and data that can be used to inform decisions and help us gain a better understanding of entrepreneurs in areas very different from the Silicon Valley type areas that are usually studied.

I will be pushing to find ways to collaborate with other departments across campus and with the other universities in the area. Recently, I was lucky to get connected to Dr. Stefanie Meyer in NDSU’s Public Health department. We have partnered on an initiative that has brought entrepreneurial thinking opportunities to that department. I would love to do more partnerships like this so if you are interested please reach out to me. 

You can learn more about getting involved, such as mentorship or coming to campus, by showing your interest by contacting us. You can also email us at [email protected], and we will be delighted to coordinate your interest. Thank you so much from all of us at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Family Business! We look forward to hearing from you.

-Onnolee Nordstrom

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