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AACSB International, the world’s largest global education network, has recognized Wilfrid Laurier University’s Lazaridis School of Business and Economics and the Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation for its commitment to creating and incubating cutting-edge business innovations and fostering entrepreneurship in the next generation of business leaders.

The Lazaridis School is one of 35 business schools around the globe to earn this distinction and the only Canadian institution recognized by the AACSB for its university-wide entrepreneurship and social innovation programs. The school’s submission centred on Laurier’s Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation, which guarantees superior experiential learning opportunities in entrepreneurship and social innovation that prepare students to be the highest-calibre business leaders and collaborators.

“The Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation is one of Canada’s longest-running post-secondary organizations dedicated to entrepreneurship education for students, alumni and the community,” said Micheál Kelly, dean of the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, which houses and operates the Schlegel Centre. “We are deeply proud of our reputation for offering innovative and immersive entrepreneurship education and for being leaders in entrepreneurship education. This recognition is a testament to our leadership in this area.”

Working collaboratively with all faculties, the Schlegel Centre offers a wide range of entrepreneurship and social innovation programming across all faculties and available to all students. Activities and services include accelerator centres that provide training, mentoring and support to students, alumni and community members; social entrepreneurship programming targeted to non-traditional learners, women, and community participants; and maker-spaces, hackathons, design labs, prototyping workshops, and special events, among many other initiatives.

“We are in the business of creating opportunities for everyone to learn about and try their hand at entrepreneurship, regardless of experience or skill level,” said Joanne Benham Rennick, executive director of the Schlegel Centre. “To ensure that everyone can have opportunities to develop the skills, confidence and networks that launch and sustain new enterprises, we provide as many access points and learning formats as possible.”

Benham Rennick also noted that the Schlegel Centre and the Lazaridis School collaborate with a dynamic network of alumni, community and private-sector partners to support students and provide them with a deeply immersive and experiential learning environment.

“Laurier has an astonishing global network of alumni entrepreneurs, business professionals and community leaders with over 96,000 members in over 100 countries, gratifying evidence that our motto of ‘Inspiring Lives of Leadership and Purpose’ resonates with students,” she said.

In its inaugural year, AACSB’s Entrepreneurship Spotlight Challenge highlights AACSB-accredited schools that deliver innovative and creative best practices through a range of distinctive entrepreneurship programs, or through a variety of impactful center formats. Accredited schools were invited to submit one example of how they demonstrate a unique commitment to student learning, while providing opportunities for students to gain the skills required to be successful in business—whether it’s in a startup or within a world-renowned corporation. Central to the challenge was uncovering schools’ unique approaches to engaging the business community, expanding the reach of education beyond the classroom and positively impacting society.

“I am pleased to recognize the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics for its commitment to developing thoughtful, dynamic education experiences that instill entrepreneurship and creative thinking in its students,” said Thomas R. Robinson, president and chief executive officer of AACSB International. “Entrepreneurship is about problem solving and working to make improvements – whether on a business or society at large – and AACSB celebrates the Lazaridis School for striving to instill that same sense of responsibility in its business education curriculum.”

As part of the selection process, nominations were reviewed by a panel of corporate leaders from a variety of disciplines, including venture capital, consulting, and accounting. Core to the Collective Vision for the industry, AACSB supports the collaboration of business practice with business education. By integrating the perspectives of business professionals into the selection process, relevant impact could be identified.

A total of 120 nominations were submitted by AACSB-accredited schools across 34 countries, all of which highlighted unique approaches to fostering and developing entrepreneurship in undergraduate and graduate students.

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