COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. -- A new center at Ursinus College encourages students to think like entrepreneurs. The new interdisciplinary center, U-Imagine! The Center for Integrative and Entrepreneurial Studies, supports several initiatives, including an entrepreneurial competition, called U-Innovate!, in which students are encouraged to come up with a “big idea” and vie for awards in a public forum.

“U-Imagine! builds on the Ursinus culture of creativity and collaboration by connecting the capacity for integrative thinking with an entrepreneurial mindset,” said President Bobby Fong in announcing the Center. “It embodies the College’s commitment to providing a rigorous liberal education that cultivates sound judgment essential for a satisfying career and a useful life.”

The Center is directed by an interdisciplinary faculty team: Carol Cirka from Business and Economics, Rebecca Jaroff from English, and April Kontostathis from Mathematics and Computer Science. Their hope is that the U-Imagine! Center will instigate an entrepreneurial spirit that permeates the Ursinus campus culture and fosters entrepreneurial competencies in students, regardless of major or post-graduate goals.

The U-Innovate! competition asks students to develop “inspired, imaginative and innovative ideas for a product or service that fulfills a market need and/or solves a social problem,” according to organizers ( Winners will receive awards up to $7,500 for first place. The U-Innovate! final presentations before a panel of judges will be held on April 6, 2014, at 3 p.m. in the Lenfest Theater. It is open to the public. Student winners will also have the opportunity to live on campus during the summer to start working on the project with a faculty mentor.

Several other entrepreneurial initiatives will come under the U-Imagine! Center, such as the U-Inspire! Speaker Series, which has sponsored alumni visits and speakers throughout the fall, and now presents Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. in the Lenfest Theater. The Beiler event is free and open to the public.

The Center directors also are working on a U-Initiate! program to connect students with the community. Other faculty members have expressed interest, including Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Patrick Hurley, who is excited about building new links between students working on issues related to the environment or urban planning and the ENV department’s community-oriented curriculum. “The Center will open up many avenues for students from all disciplines to develop, pursue, and implement new creative ideas in these fields,” he said.

Senior Pearl Steinberg said she had a clothing business which was quite successful. “This type of entrepreneurial initiative is exactly what I plan on pursuing for my career,” she said.

The U-Imagine! Center is the second integrative Center at Ursinus College, which established The Center for Science and the Common Good in Spring 2012, supported by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Ursinus College is a highly selective, independent coeducational liberal arts college located on a scenic, wooded, 170-acre campus in suburban Philadelphia. The college is one of only 8 percent of U.S. Colleges to host a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Its web site is located at