We all love new beginnings. Well, all but those that are called Mondays. A new beginning is a second chance (or maybe third or fourth), a re-do, or a whole different approach to something. In business, a new beginning is referred to as a startup. A startup business is defined in many ways by many different CEOs, but to save us some time, click here for that background information.
Suzanne Davis, the executive vice president of Greenville University, has recently nicknamed the university, “The 126-Year Startup.” What does this mean? Well, it is important to know that this is the 126th year Greenville University has been alive. When we talk about it being the 126-year startup, we are talking about a new beginning each academic year. Davis describes, “Basically, it means that we are thinking outside the box of higher education. We are constantly innovating for the future of what the market will demand. It involves creating partnerships blurring the lines of distinction between on-campus and off-campus activities, curricular and co-curricular activities, etc.” Davis has been spending many hours thinking about the development of the GU SMART building set to open the fall of 2019. “I just said it one day,” Davis states. The term the 126-year startup has grown on her as it describes the mission and vision of the university. Innovation is one of the seven core values of the university. Academia is a whole different beast when it comes to being innovative. This university has been alive for 126 years, but due to location, the need for new ideas is even more urgent. Because Greenville is located in such a rural area, the pressure to be innovative as a higher education institution becomes even more significant.
As stated before, this idea of Greenville being the 126-year start-up stems from the future addition of the GU SMART building. Davis describes, “It [the 126-year startup] also means thinking about the classroom in terms of Greenville Smart activities, where business leaders engage our students as well as faculty. Where we host cooking shows, musical events and guest speakers who become part of the fabric of what we do just the same as a chapel speaker might previously. It’s taking the experiential learning components of our coursework and applying it to the new needs of the marketplace and nonprofit organizations we are connected to.” The GU SMART building is subject to updates during the upcoming year of 2019. Davis expresses how this change will benefit many, including Experience First students. While many Greenville traditions stand tall today, this new opportunity plays a vital role in the innovation core value.
In a startup business, everything always seems to be changing, each day is a different deal, and it is nimble and quick to change process. In the university world, Greenville has a long history, and while much of that history plays a role in how the institution operates today, we embrace exiting new opportunities. This dual effect between old and new creates a space in the rural midwest for students of diverse backgrounds to come and grow into leaders in their fields, as citizens, and as Christians. One hundred twenty-six years have come and gone, but Greenville University continues to pride itself on lasting traditions combined with exciting innovation.