Elon University establishes Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership

A $1 million gift by Edward and Joan Doherty of Saddle River, N.J., will establish and permanently endow the Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at Elon. The center, based in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, will focus on experiential education and preparing students for success as entrepreneurs. Details...

The Doherty Center will support scholarships for students, an endowed professorship for entrepreneurial leadership, an annual endowed Entrepreneur-of-the-Year lecture, and programming. Under the umbrella of the Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, the Love School of Business has a goal of becoming a national leader in creative entrepreneurial education.

The Dohertys are the parents of three children, Timothy, Shannon and Kerry, who is an Elon senior and corporate communications major. Ed is a member of Elon’s Board of Trustees and together with Joan served on Elon’s Parents Council. Their company, Doherty Enterprises, Inc., is one of the nation’s leading franchisee operators of quality family restaurants, including Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, Panera Bread and Chevys Fresh Mex.

“Ed and Joan Doherty have been strong and effective leaders as parents, both on the Parents Council and the Board of Trustees,” said Leo M. Lambert, Elon president. “They are articulate advocates and spokespeople for Elon’s strong program of experiential and engaged learning and the sense of community that binds the campus together. Elon University is a better place because of their leadership and generosity.”

“It is great to play a small part in nurturing and enriching the lives of students through the Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership,” said Ed Doherty during a dedication ceremony April 26 in the Koury Business Center on campus. “Elon’s vision is to be the best university in the world at engaged learning, and they’re well on their way to doing that. We are so excited and so proud to be able to help Elon through the Doherty Center.”

“Elon is a perfect setting for students to spread their wings,” said Joan Doherty. “Elon engages them to learn not only in the classroom, but in study abroad programs, internships and service to the community. It empowers them to become independent learners and global citizens. My family and I are very pleased to be able to contribute to this university as it continues to grow with the needs of its student body.”

In announcing the center, the university named Barth Strempek, associate professor of business administration, as the first Doherty Professor of Entrepreneurial Leadership. Also announced were the first six Doherty Scholars, who will receive annual scholarships of $1,250 and become core leaders for new ventures on campus. The scholars are rising seniors Merilyn Coffey, Margaret Smyth and Michael Vantusko, and rising juniors Kaitlyn Ahmed, Zachary McCarthy, and Marisa Pinero.

John Burbridge, dean of the Love School of Business, said he is pleased that Strempek will lead the center’s development as the Doherty Professor.

“One of the first initiatives I undertook 11 years ago as dean was to support Professor Strempek in his first entrepreneurship venture,” Burbridge said.

The Doherty Center will have dedicated space on the third floor of Elon’s Ernest A. Koury Sr. Business Center for the development of business plans, business-related functions such as accounting and inventory storage.

The Doherty Center builds on previous successes in entrepreneurial education at Elon. In October 1997, the Love School of Business received approximately $23,000 from the Coleman Foundation for the development of entrepreneurship offerings to its students. Approximately 25 students took a sequence of courses that resulted in the development, production and marketing of a music CD.

In 2001 Elon received a $385,000 grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE) to create the Elon Enterprise Academy (EEA).  EEA involved about 65 students in a variety of majors who created four businesses, the Junior Undergraduate Marketing Program (marketing consulting), Elon Events Enterprise (events production), Squirrel Prints Publishing (book publishing) and Elon ImproVibes (music recording label).