The McNair Center’s mission is to create and sustain an entrepreneurial ecosystem within the College that provides education, apprenticeships, mentoring, capital access and professional skills development to students. It is dedicated to disseminating best practices for this ecosystem development to other small to mid-size higher education institutions.
As part of the College's Institute for Leadership & Professional Excellence, the McNair Center serves Columbia College students in both the Women’s College and in its co-educational Professional Studies programs, in addition to connecting with regional entrepreneurial and innovation communities. There are four main components to the services of the McNair Center:
The McNair Entrepreneurship Fellows is a unique and customized scholars program for Columbia College students. Fellows participate in academic coursework focused on entrepreneurism, business modeling and design, professional skills, and engage in a capstone apprenticeship. Fellows are paired with a practicing entrepreneur mentor and join in boot camps and other speaker series and lifelong learning programming. Study away and summer applied learning opportunities are also part of the program.
The Columbia College Micro Seed Fund is a strategic, financial resource for students and alumni of Columbia College that is meant to kickstart the development of their idea, planning, and success. There are specific criteria for selection and award, supported by the McNair Entrepreneurship Cabinet.
The Columbia College Entrepreneur-Mentor Network serves to connect students with mentors from year one of a student’s college experience. Female entrepreneurs and professionals with a budding or proven interest in entrepreneurism will come together to support and advise Fellows and students at each stage of their learning process, but particularly in their apprenticeship work.
The McNair Entrepreneurship Cabinet will serves the McNair Center and its students in a volunteer advisory capacity, directing connections into the entrepreneurial community, advising the faculty and staff at the College, while supporting the selection of the Micro Seed Fund disbursements. The Cabinet represents a diverse makeup of industry sectors and members have the ability to provide pro-bono advisement to the College and its students.
The McNair Center for Entrepreneurism also coordinates Columbia College's partnership in the South Carolina Women's Entrepreneurship Network, offering the internationally renowned Kauffman Foundation FastTrac® NewVenture™ for Female Entrepreneur educational course across South Carolina.
The McNair Center for Entrepreneurism is one of six centers of excellence of its kind across the United States through a generous gift provided by the Janice and Robert McNair Foundation.
Christine Lomer La Cola, Ed.D.
Katherine Swartz Hilton, M.A.