DCTC instructor shares experience through NACCE fellowship
Dakota County may be the first two words in Dakota County Technical College, but the college’s influence and impact on entrepreneurship and economic development reach far beyond the county border. Christine Mollenkopf-Pigsley, an entrepreneurship/small business instructor at DCTC, was awarded a 2013 curriculum and training fellowship with the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship, or NACCE.
“The NACCE Fellows Program is an exciting new addition to our offerings that will benefit our members across the country,” said NACCE Executive Director Heather Van Sickle. “The Fellows Program will increase access to research and education, helping our members support and grow entrepreneurship in their communities.”
In the next year, Pigsley will assist community and technical colleges across the country in establishing and advancing academic programs in entrepreneurship. She will show institutions how to operate in more entrepreneurial manner as well as how to develop new delivery methods such as noncredit options.
DCTC offered an entrepreneurship program early on. The college recruited Pigsley as associate dean of business and entrepreneurship to develop the Institute for Business, Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Partners in Higher Education site in Apple Valley, Minn. The institute’s operational formula and its host partnership site have been featured and replicated in states across the nation.
Pigsley returned to the classroom in 2011 to help build the college’s new certificate and degree programs, including a Small Business Operations certificate geared toward home-based entrepreneurs and returning veterans. In fall 2013, DCTC will introduce an A.S. degree in Entrepreneurship & Small Business* that was developed for students who plan to continue their education and make a career at self-employment.
“This fellowship opportunity is hands-on,” explained Pigsley. She has already traveled to California and Massachusetts to provide real-world solutions for two-year colleges. According to Pigsley, state budget cuts and the recession have taken their toll nationally more than in Minnesota. Even so, there is no shortage of interest in entrepreneurship.
“We have colleges that have been offering entrepreneurship courses for years that are now looking to practice what they teach and operate in a manner that is more self-sustaining and locally driven,” she said. “Likewise, some colleges that have focused on a strictly university transfer mission are recognizing that the skills a business owner possesses can be applicable throughout a person’s life and that income patching through self-employment is a reality for many of our students.”
DCTC also benefits from Pigsley’s fellowship through new ideas and new partnerships. NACCE represents hundreds of two-year colleges in the U.S. as well as many abroad. Pigsley has been able to showcase the high-quality and innovative programs at DCTC on a national stage, cultivating new funding opportunities for the college and Minnesota. Entrepreneurship is coming to Minnesota Friday, June 7, 2013, when two-year public colleges in the state will gather to share best e-ship practices at the NACCE Summit at Ridgewater College in Willmar, Minn.
“Entrepreneurship is one of the hottest growth areas in career and technical education today,” said Pigsley. “I couldn’t be more proud that I have the opportunity to share my experiences in the classroom and in my administrative leadership role with other colleges.”* Pending MnSCU approval