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The notion that a university can be entrepreneurial and be managed along the same lines as a business company is still very new in our Cameroon Higher Education system. While a good number of universities in the world have taken the lead in this regard such as Warwick (England), Strathclyde (Scotland), Twente (Netherlands), Chalmers (Sweden), Joensuu (Finland), Stanford (USA), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), The University of Michigan (USA), Georgia Institute of Technology, (USA) and Monash (Australia), CUIB as a professional university has taken the bold step to be the premier game changer and leader in Entrepreneurial Education in Cameroon. One thing is certain, that entrepreneurialism does not mean a compromise of traditional academic values. On the contrary, it not only fosters it but elevates it since it requires higher order thinking skills such as problem solving; creativity, critical thinking, and thinking for Understanding and Transfer (see Anderson, L.W. & Krathwohl. D. R (Eds.)(2001). A Taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, New York: Longman, p. 63). Entrepreneurialism also present the best alternative to face the global issues of poverty, unemployment, and to satisfy the lifelong training needs of an ever more specialized labour market. If we have to pay heed to the clarion call made by the President, Paul Biya, that in 2035 Cameroon should be an emerging nation, then the pathway for our country now is the entrepreneurial pathway.
There are two perspectives to CUIB’s entrepreneurial philosophy – the Academic as well as the Catholic perspectives. In the academic arena CUIB has adopted 5 major pathways or elements while from the Catholic stand point CUIB has 5 foundational pillars that are central in understanding her entrepreneurial philosophy. These combined, constitute the integral nature of our entrepreneurial philosophy as it highlights the HEART (skills and competence) and SOUL (Character and ethics) of any genuine Entrepreneurial Education. The 5 pathways are not only characteristic of effective entrepreneurial universities but constitute the minimum requirement for any prospective university which seeks to follow the entrepreneurial path as CUIB.
On the other hand, the 5 pillars articulate what a truly Catholic Entrepreneurial or Business Excellence university has to adopt if it wants to fulfill its proper mission. These 5 foundational pillars were clearly articulated by Cardinal Peter K. A Turkson, former Archbishop of Cape Coast Ghana and current President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace during his keynote address at the 8th International Conference on Catholic Social Thought and Management Education at the University of Dayton, Ohio, in June 2012. Attending this conference were 160 participants representing 22 countries and 80 Catholic Colleges and universities. Providentially, the Chancellor of CUIB, Mgr. Immanuel B. Bushu, his Pro-Chancellor, Fr George Nkeze Jingwa, and the then Director of the CUIB-CERI late Sr Emmanuella Fomenky were participants of that symposium representing CUIB. The 2012 summer Edition of the Journal of Catholic Higher Education and the next issue that follows originate from papers delivered at the Dayton Conference (18-20 June 2012). We shall examine each of them separately.
CUIB has adopted 5 major elements in articulating its academic entrepreneurial philosophy namely:
This first element involves recognizing that universities, especially Private universities in Cameroon, cannot continue to be managed in the conventional way that public universities are run with government funding and subsidies if they wish to respond effectively to the overload of demands placed upon them. Private universities must develop a strong Business Organizational culture and base to steer themselves financially if they have to function into perpetuity. Some universities such as Government owned often ignore this imperative and continue to rely on their outstanding reputations and political clout for maintaining resources and status.
All others, like the emergence of Private Universities in the country do not have the benefit of this luxury. By declaring itself as an Entrepreneurial University CUIB right from inception established a strong Institutional Business Base to enable her respond more quickly, flexibly and consistently through adopting a Business model organizational structure with the Board of Trustees as the Managing board of the University as you find in most US universities. The University also runs an office of Advancement and Development both at the National and International Level. The university also has a web of committees such as the President’s Steering committee made up of internal and external stakeholders and the Vice President of Personnel and Administrative Services working with Line managers to manage the non-academic affairs of the university. Schools have Board of Advisors who are selected external experts, practitioners, CEOs of Companies, innovative entrepreneurs, leaders of Not for Profit and government organizations who support the mission of the School and contribute experience and wisdom to its ongoing development. There is also the Academic and Pastoral Board that runs various committees to enhance relevance and quality in the university’s academic programs and Pastoral initiatives.
This second element derives from the belief that Schools, Colleges and academic departments by themselves can no longer do all the things that a contemporary university has to do and therefore must make up the difference: namely, by reaching across old university boundaries and seizing the initiative to develop links between itself and the wider world. This activity has, in CUIB typically focused on the establishment of professionalized outreach units – on knowledge transfer, industrial contact, intellectual property development, continuing education and working closely with the University’s Business Park. The “ advancement and developmental periphery “ of the School of IT for instance, embraces an IT Certification Academy that runs CISCO and Oracle programmes both for its students and the outside world. These project-based activities act as “Practicum” centres where the students develop hands-on skills. The School of Business also works in Collaboration with CUIB-CERI to manage the Diocesan Bookshop at Molyko. Students of the School of Business use the Bookshop as a “Practicum Centre” to develop hands-on skills.
This third element arises from the broad acceptance that the traditional and staple source for funding in HEIs, which should be the government, is no longer either reliable or munificent. For now, Private universities in Cameroon receive no financial subsidy from the government. Even government subsidies to Public universities have dropped due to the world financial crisis. By declaring itself as an Entrepreneurial University CUIB right from inception established a strong income generating platform by the creation of a Business Park with the title Centre for Entrepreneurship, Research and Innovation (CERI) meant to enable it source for funding and generate income to help train its students in the Free Market economy and address the challenges of huge capital investments needed to provide state of the art infrastructure for Higher learning.
CUIB as an entrepreneurial university continues to search for additional sources of income by building a diversified funding base. The University has just established an International Office of Institutional Advancement and Development (OIAD) in the US to improve on its Donor Network programme. The Board of Directors of the US Florida based CUIB Foundation with 501 © 3 tax exempt status are currently re-structuring the foundation as a not for Profit organization with Public Charity Status to extend to other parts of the US such as Charlotte and Washington DC in order to support the University’s mission and Infrastructural challenges. In London, The Millennium Group(TMG) Foundation run by a group of Cameroonian Professionals currently support the university to raise funds for various projects for the University while providing free consultancy Services for CUIB in both the Academic, Research and Business domains. Without diversity in financing, CUIB will lose its ability to be adaptable, to make choices and to be a better-focused institution.
An entrepreneurial university is one in which enterprising activity is widely diffused across the academic heartland. This element is what is lacking in most traditional universities which are too “content” based and do not allow for the transfer of knowledge, new ideas and technology from university to the industry or community. This is what is popularly known as the Triple Helix Concept, namely the University as the Knowledge base, working with the Industry and Society. It is for this reason that CUIB runs a four year entrepreneurial programme which is mandatory for all students. The purpose of this programme is to foster innovation, creativity, new ideas and new businesses. Students belong to entrepreneurial base groups and are expected to start their own businesses and run them. No matter what program the students enroll in they are supposed to embrace the Entrepreneurial mindset, attitude and ability to begin their own businesses as “Agripreneurs”, or “Stempreneurs or “Spiritpreneurs” or “technopreneurs”.
The fifth element of our academic entrepreneurial philosophy recognizes that universities are not only differentiated in operation terms from their less enterprising counterparts, but also in a cultural sense – in ideas, values and beliefs they espouse. In CUIB, our entrepreneurial culture has turned out to mean three things: a vocation, an “attitude,” “mind-set” or “heart-set” and a sense of “doing business on one’s own account and at one’s own risk, a path which all entrepreneurs have to follow. CUIB has a Direction Statement which all stakeholders, faculty, staff and students yearly pledge to commit themselves to. There are three words that are a taboo in CUIB known as the ABC words – Accuse, Blame and Condemn. In CUIB we look for solutions and not just talk about problems. The entrepreneurial culture has brought in a new spirit within the CUIB community of respect, high self-esteem, positivity and hard work. Every month, there is a Guest speaker, mostly successful CEO’s, who address the whole university to foster our entrepreneurial ideas, values and beliefs.
As a Catholic University, there is something that CUIB brings that you will rarely find in most entrepreneurial universities – the soul of Entrepreneurial Education which is about Character, Ethics and spirituality. A Catholic entrepreneurial university will be fulfilling its proper mission, which includes acting and teaching in a way that is recognizable as Catholic if it embraces the following five foundational Pillars to sustain and orient its entire program of studies, activities and practices as articulated by Cardinal Peter K. A. Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (See Journal of Catholic Higher Education, Vol 31, Number 2, Summer 2012, pp. 151-167). These pillars are:
The basis of all business or entrepreneurship from the Christian point of view has its origin and basis in the Book of Genesis in the account of Creation. In Gen. 1: 26-28, man is endowed with intelligence and Freedom to share in the work of creation (Job Creators). In addition, besides the dominion granted Adam and Eve over creation, they must till the earth (Gen. 3:23). Humanity is to make creation serve its needs through the transformative power of work. In its exercise of business or entrepreneurship, therefore, humanity would become a rock that sustains creation through the practice of love and justice. And this is truly the vocation of the Christian Business Leader or entrepreneur: to practice love and justice, and to teach the business household for which he or she is responsible to do likewise, for the sustenance of all creation, beginning with his or her brothers and sisters. Thus, from a Catholic viewpoint, we trace our human dignity, our stewardship, and our responsibility for the common good, back to creation, the originating mission event of humankind. CUIB embraces this pillar through its Catholic Studies programme. Working in close collaboration with the University of St Thomas in Minnesota, students are expected to graduate with a minor in Catholic Studies, an interdisciplinary programme which embraces all faith units.
This pillar articulates the purpose of business which is a noble pursuit in Christian teaching. At its best and most true to its nature and potential, business ought to serve the common good. There are four facets to this noble purpose from a Catholic perspective.
Entrepreneurship is a genuine calling from God, a calling to be a co-creator in a responsible way, thereby contributing to the unfolding of God’s design for the world.
Business activity is inherently oriented to serving stakeholders of all sorts and thereby contributing to the common good.
From the Catholic perspective, we are social beings with the responsibility for others: responsible to help them grow, prosper, and excel.
Business must respect creation, the surrounding society, and the needs and rights of future generations. Decisions should not be short-term and piece meal, exploitative, but long-term and sustainable. The truth is that if we do this, there will be enough for everyone: – adequate financial returns, reasonable wages for employees, acceptable prices to suppliers, and just tax revenues to the government.
This Pillar articulates that engaging in Business is a noble vocation. The role of the Executive, President, Provost, Line manager or Administrator is to care for and nurture the relationships among all stakeholders. Understanding what everyone’s needs are, in order to be able to organize, evaluate, and improve all the relationships is the bread and butter of entrepreneurial education. In CUIB, everyone is considered as a Stakeholder – owners, investors, employees, clients, suppliers, students, faculty, staff, administrators and also the community. Creating harmony and a sense of belonging is key to the CUIB culture. Faculty, staff and students, eat together, pray together, play together and “fish” together.
This pillar highlights the fact that the proper conduct of a business leader or entrepreneur is not only about the Heart of Business (Competence and skills) but the Soul of Business (Ethics, Character and worldview). Everyone in a business must learn to behave and act properly. This is why in CUIB we do not only teach our students the tasks and practices of business(Heart of Business) but we also help them to develop a moral compass(soul of Business) that will enable them to find the right solutions even when in uncharted territory. Every day, we have what is called the Economy of Communion time from 12.00 pm - 12.30 pm reserved for worship, meditation, prayer, listening to the Word of God or the celebration of the Eucharist, the heart of Communion in the Church. What will help our young entrepreneurs grasp what is good is a well-formed character and a mature faith. This pillar is greatly lacking in most entrepreneurial universities in the world.
This pillar highlights the fact that it is not enough to teach a way to make a living; it is it equally important to teach our students how to live a good life. Good Leadership starts with leading a good life. This first course in our Catholic Studies programme is Search for Happiness. Helping in this search is one of the key advantages that CUIB provides to its students. In CUIB we help our students to seek a balanced life. Living out one’s discovered vocation requires balance. No one leaves the university intending to have a bad marriage or broken relationships with their children and parents. Ecclesiastes 3:1-12 reminds us that there is a time for everything and this means taking time: for family and friends and also for oneself; for recreation and relaxation, for physical and spiritual exercises; for active life and volunteer service. It is in the balance of these aspects with work that we find meaning and joy. And this is the package that CUIB have for all its faculty, staff and students.