Annual Women’s Entrepreneurship Week returns to Marshall

The Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation, also known as the iCenter, celebrated Women’s Entrepreneurship Week in the Lewis College of Business, which is believed to be the first school in the nation to be named exclusively after a woman, Mrs. Elizabeth McDowell Lewis, who graduated from Marshall in 1931.

Women’s Entrepreneurship Week, also known as WEW, is recognized by over 200 universities across 32 countries. The event takes place the third week of October each year, and has been taking place at Marshall for four years.

This year, there was an event almost every day last week, starting with the virtual event on Tuesday Oct. 19th.

All other events were in-person, including a networking workshop on Wednesday the 20th from 3-5 p.m. in the Memorial Student Center.

There was also an open house at the iCenter on Thursday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., and an intro to design thinking workshop on Friday from 8:30 a.m. until noon.

The goal of these events is for the attendees to create relationships.

“We really just want women to meet each other,” said Tricia Ball, the associate director of the iCenter.

She said she hopes that by the end of the week students will make connections that will help them further their plans, and help them form their own businesses.

All WEW events last year were held virtually due to the pandemic.

Ball said this year the iCenter was excited to host in-person events.

“There is a lot of creativity with the virtual events, it is a lot easier logistically for people,” Ball said. “You can have speakers from further away. I think from now on we will probably try more of a hybrid, like this year. We can bring in speakers virtually that we may not be able to bring in person, but also give local people the chance to meet in person.”

Glen Midkiff, director of John F. Rahal Center for Strategic Engagement, said women have been entrepreneurs throughout history.

“Before anyone knew what entrepreneur meant, I think that all of our mothers and all of our grandmothers were entrepreneurs in their own right. They sold canned goods, they sold cakes, they made clothes. They were entrepreneurs and they took care of their family,” Midkiff said.

Midkiff has been working with the MU since 2016.

He said he is inspired by entrepreneurs and works to create a place where students can learn how to expand their knowledge and grow as a soon to be business owner.

“I get excited every time that I see an entrepreneur, somebody that’s taken an idea and ran with it and done really well,” Midkiff said.

“We want to make them successful, and we want to inspire. That is the whole thing about this week. We want to inspire our students to go forward with their dreams and dissolve who they want to be.”

Elizabeth McDowell Lewis was an example of someone who made themselves successful.

She graduated from Marshall with a degree in commerce and began her career as a teacher immediately after graduation.

She was then named the director of the New River National Bank.

Throughout her life, she was chairperson of the Civics League’s Dollars for Scholars Program, a member at the Oak Hill Garden Club, the Fayette Study Club, and more.

In 1993, She was inducted into the College of Business Hall of Fame, as one of the first five people inducted.

By 1996, her contributions to the University led her to have “The Marshall University Elizabeth McDowell Lewis College of Business” named after her.

After the $25 million donation to the College of Business from Brad D. Smith, people began to question if the Lewis College of Business would keep its name.

“We were very clear with our intention to Brad that the Lewis college of Business would remain the same. What will happen is once the new building is built, we will have the Brad D. Smith Schools of Business under the Lewis College of Business,” said Dr. Avinandan Mukherjee, Interim Provost and Senior vice president for Academic Affairs, and most recently dean of the Lewis College of Business.

The Brad D. Smith Schools of Business will be two academic entities within the Lewis College of Business.