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Dr. Melinda Walls

W. Robert Stover Chair for Entrepreneurial Leadership; Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program; Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Since joining the University in 2018, Walls has staffed and opened the eHIVE, a co-curricular campus innovation hub, and developed a number of key partnerships on campus, in the community, in the region and across the United States. She has piloted three new courses and created an 18-credit, cross-campus academic minor. She has also developed a faculty entrepreneurial leadership fellowship program to support the expansion of Entrepreneurial Leadership across the curriculum.

Walls holds a B.S. and J.D. from West Virginia University.

Please describe your program and your vision for it.

The new Entrepreneurial Leadership Program is designed to create a culture of proactive, innovative problem solving which will provide Waynesburg University students with the skills, abilities and experiences to thrive in a changing world. Our new minor is an 18-credit offering designed to fit with any existing major on campus to provide students with the entrepreneurial mindset and creative problem solving skills necessary to take an idea from concept to implementation. At Waynesburg University, we believe in learning by doing, so courses in this minor are highly experiential. Rooted in the Liberal Arts tradition, students may select from specially designed courses in multiple disciplines to tailor their experience to fit with their academic and carrier goals.

What are some opportunities for your students?

While the minor is just beginning, we have already begun to offer students from across campus opportunities through the eHIVE, which is our co-curricular campus innovation hub. Last July, four Waynesburg University students participated in the Praxis Academy, which is a week-long gathering of student entrepreneurs and innovators with a focus on redemptive entrepreneurship. In addition, last spring semester, our students partnered with students from Carnegie Mellon University to study food insecurity issues in Greene County. The students formed cross-university teams and interviewed local agencies and their clients to better understand the challenges facing county residents. After developing possible solutions, they presented their recommendations to the Greene County Commissioners and other community leaders. Several of the ideas are being implemented.

If I were a student considering this minor, what are some career paths I would be able to pursue? 

At Waynesburg University, we believe that creativity, innovation, analytical thinking and the ability to operationalize an idea are valuable skills for any career. The World Economic Forum agrees. These skills, which are learning outcomes in our Entrepreneurial Leadership minor, are listed in the top ten skills in the 2022 Skills Outlook in the WEF’s Future of Jobs Report. Our minor incorporates courses from the arts, science, business and communication. That way, students from multiple majors may develop the skillset and mindset to be an entrepreneurial leader in their chosen field. 

What do you think is a true differentiator for WU or your program? 

Many collegiate entrepreneurship programs focus solely on venture creation. We focus on teaching the skills and mindset successful entrepreneurs practice. We believe that these practices will lead students to be successful in whatever field they choose and give them the ability to thrive in an ever-changing world.

What is the most interesting place that you have visited and why? 

La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. Construction of this beautiful basilica, designed by Antoni Gaudi, began in 1882 and is anticipated to be complete in 2026. It is a study of beauty, innovation, faith and persistence. Aside from the awe-inspiring architecture and art depicting Jesus’ life and death, the fact that it has been an ongoing construction project for over 135 years and relies solely on private funding is a testament to the Christian faith and the Catholic people.

A culture of innovation and problem solving, starting day one

At Waynesburg University, we believe that entrepreneurial leadership is both a study and a practice. To foster this type of learning, opportunities to engage, innovate, create and serve exist both inside and outside of the classroom, across all areas of study.