$LU $eeks $upport

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$LU $eeks $upport

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In a progressively escalating financial situation, the SLU administration is looking outward.

On Monday, Feb. 15, President Pestello announced ‘GrowingSLU’—an initiative that prompts members of the SLU community to submit ideas that could increase SLU’s revenue.

“Initiative Four of the strategic plan is “Being an Innovator and Entrepreneur in All That We Do.” To achieve this objective, we must nurture the entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking of our faculty, staff and students,” Pestello said in his email to the SLU community.

Newly appointed Chief Innovation Officer David Hakanson, who has presided as Chief Information Officer since 2013, came up with the idea for the program and collaborated with other administrators and staff members to make it into GrowingSLU. He will be heading up the initiative, along with the seven-other representatives on the advisory committee.

Hakanson said they researched other programs similar to GrowingSLU, but had not come across anything like this: calling out university-wide to submit any kind of idea that will produce revenue for the university and aligns with SLU’s strategic plan. The program will be funded through a $1 million gift given to the university, which has been allocated to this project.

“What we’re looking for is something brief. It doesn’t have to be fully thought through, but just ‘what’s the idea?’” said Hakanson. “It can be something related to student services or something related to academics, or any part really of the university or any idea that we have that aligns with the university’s core mission and aligned of course with the strategic plan. Any idea, whether it be very large, or very small, we want to hear.”

There will be several phases of GrowingSLU, but currently, those interested may submit their ideas—on the program’s website or by using the GrowingSLU hashtag on social media—to the advisory committee until March 4. Individual and team submissions are welcome.

By March 11, after reviewing the submissions, the committee will select from those ideas and ask those individuals and teams to provide more developed business plans, which the university will provide resources to help review their concept.

“We will look at that business plan and the advisory committee will review which of those will best meet the purpose of the program and have the best alignment to revenue and the strategic plan, and those are the ones we’ll decide to fund based off of the amount of funding we have,” said Hakanson.

The committee will make their decision on which projects to fund by May 4. The individuals and/or teams whose business plans receive funding will also receive a cash award of $1,000 and will be invited to a private reception with Pestello, as well.

In May 2017, after one year of operation, the advisory committee will review each funded project to determine its success and its produced revenue. If the committee determines that the initiative has not been successful, the funding will stop.

However, the committee will also rate the projects that they’ve deemed the most successful, depending on outcome. A monetary award for first place will be $5,000, and then $3,000 for second place and $1,000 for third.

Pestello included in his email that GrowingSLU would be the first of many tasks for Hakanson in his role of Chief Innovation Officer, and Hakanson confirmed that there would be more intitiatives to come.

“From the strategic plan perspective, there are several action committees that have been put together to look at where do we move forward in the different areas of the strategic plan, and certainly within innovation and entrepreneurship, we are looking at different ways to become more innovative and more entrepreneurial,” said Hakanson.

“So this is one of many to come and I anticipate that we will start communicating the others that are being announced as well once they’ve been fully developed.”

In the meantime, students can learn more about GrowingSLU at the four information sessions that will be held about the program, the first of which taking place on Feb. 18 at 3:00 p.m. in the Learning Resource Center, rooms 107 and 108.

Hakanson cited his enthusiasm for the program and the possibility of student engagement, saying, “I’m hoping that students will submit their ideas, whether large or small, because I’m really excited to see the ideas that come from our student body, our faculty and our staff.”