Newswise — WASHINGTON, DC (October 24, 2017) ─ The American University Center for Innovation (AUCI) was selected as the 65th program to join the American Council of Trustees and Alumni’s (ACTA) Oases of Excellence Network. ACTA’s Oases of Excellence initiative recognizes outstanding academic programs and centers that promote academic integrity, celebrate intellectual diversity, and honor donor intent.

Many programs in the Oases Network concentrate on the study of American history and political theory, Western civilization, the Great Books, economics, capitalism, the free market and leadership. AUCI is the second American University (AU) program to receive this designation, joining the Political Theory Institute (PTI), which makes AU one of only four universities across the country to have two Oases of Excellence, joining Georgetown University, University of Arizona, and Yale University. AUCI is only the second entrepreneurship center to receive this prestigious designation from ACTA.

“This program fuses a core understanding of free markets and economics while giving students the opportunity to apply these concepts,” said Michael Poliakoff. “Few other centers offer such an exciting array of programmatic offerings while preparing students for the 21st century marketplace. We are delighted to add them to our growing network.”

AUCI’s mission is to help AU students from all across campus to gain a full understanding of the real world of business and markets by confronting, embracing, and creating opportunities—with the goal of achieving the highest levels of human flourishing and self-actualization. AUCI offers a minor in entrepreneurship and teaches students the value of business through courses covering classical liberalism, capitalism, and applied economics. Led by Director and Dean’s Research Fellow Dr. Siri Terjesen, AUCI brings together prospective student entrepreneurs, educators, and experienced business leaders to develop entrepreneurial mindsets, identify opportunities, refine business models, and launch new ventures. For students starting ventures, AUCI’s incubator provides faculty coaching and mentors, shared workspace, programming and networking opportunities, student resources, skills training, and services. Other activities include undergraduate research projects, pitch competitions, skills workshops, entrepreneurship speakers, and a rich variety of aligned events.

In April 2017, AUCI was spotlighted by Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) as one of the world’s top 20 entrepreneurship centers. Now it joins ACTA’s Oases network. Director Siri Terjesen observed, “There are tens of thousands of university-based research and education centers across the country, so this terrific ACTA recognition really signals AUCI’s delivery of first-rate cross-campus entrepreneurship programming.”

The first American University center to receive the ACTA designation was the Political Theory Institute (PTI) led by Professors Alan Levine and Tom Merrill. PTI’s mission is to encourage the serious study of the great questions of political theory and to bring the insights of political theorists to bear on current issues and events. PTI’s Associate Director Tom Merrill shared, “We at PTI have been proud to bring serious discussion of political ideas and a real diversity of viewpoints to the campus of American University. Now, we are very happy for the university to be joined by another ACTA Oasis of Excellence, the AU Center for Innovation, and look forward to collaborations and even a bit of healthy rivalry.”

“Having two centers with such different areas of focus really highlights the academic breadth available to AU students who are willing to study beyond their basic requirements. American University should be proud to be home to these two outstanding programs,” Poliakoff added.


About American University Located in Washington D.C., American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and more than 140 countries and providing opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.

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