The University of Rochester believes that entrepreneurship, like research and artistic creativity, is a basic expression of human freedom. It is a primary way in which a free society grows and improves not only its economy, but its cultural and social life as well. More than a discrete set of business skills or practices, entrepreneurship is a calling that can be pursued in many realms of experience and achievement. A core value of American culture, entrepreneurship uniquely combines the visionary and the pragmatic. It requires individual initiative, knowledge, and, through awareness of markets, attention to the needs of others. Entrepreneurship is a way of thinking, an approach to problems, an attribute of mind, and even a trait of character. It is a science and an art. Some characteristics of entrepreneurship can be taught; others must be nurtured.

Four figures anchor Rochester’s heritage and shape our unusually broad understanding of entrepreneurship. Susan B. Anthony, a Rochester resident, founded the American Equal Rights Association and in 1900 led the University to admit women. While living in Rochester, Frederick Douglass founded the North Star, America’s best-known African-American newspaper, and became the nation’s most powerful abolitionist. George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak Company, is the University’s most generous benefactor. Joseph C. Wilson, founder of Xerox Corporation and long-time Chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, led Rochester’s rise to national prominence as a research university. Each of these figures turned an idea into a venture that benefited others. Thus, they are entrepreneurs in the deepest sense. Through their example, and the role they played in our heritage, the University understands entrepreneurship to mean the transformation of an idea into an enterprise that creates value—intellectual, social, cultural, or economic.

The Ain Center for Entrepreneurship, launched by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation grant awarded to the University in 2003, serves to identify and create new partnerships with students, alumni, local businesses, and non-profit organizations; coordinates and publicizes school-based experiences, including courses and signature programming; informs faculty of grant and bridging fellowship opportunities; and encourages collaboration among the schools engaged in entrepreneurship education at the University of Rochester.