In addition to its regular, for credit, educational programs Graceland University offers a variety of non-formal educational opportunities. These may or may not carry Continuing Education Unit credit. Specific non-formal programs are often designed to fit client objectives, needs and time frames. Such programs are offered under the auspices of Centers.
Two extremely successful entities comprise this Center: SkillPath Seminars and The Center for the Study of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship.
In 1995, Graceland acquired Skillpath Seminars, Inc. magazine’s 32nd fastest-growing privately held company in America. Currently, Skillpath develops and presents more than 12,000 one and two-day public seminars annually, over a wide variety of business management, personal growth and development, and technical skill topics (also under the name, CompuMaster) throughout the U.S., Canada, and several other countries. Seminars also are offered on-site to companies and organizations who want the benefits of this training tailored for their own unique interests and needs. The division also publishes and markets business and personal growth “how-to” books, audio programs, video training, and computer-based learning products. The Graceland-Skillpath partnership makes possible a long-sought objective: the potential for many to experience the joy and benefits obtained through lifelong learning and professional development.
By establishing this Center, Graceland University seeks to perpetuate the spirit of free enterprise in students, faculty, and the community. The study of America’s entrepreneurial tradition enhances and strengthens our economy by encouraging innovation and by familiarizing young people with a knowledge of the principles and history of free enterprise. That body of economic values, purposes, concepts, processes and structures which constitutes the American system has allowed our society to deploy its resources, both physical and human, to achieve an outstanding quality of life for most Americans. Although it is not perfect, our economic system is inextricably interwoven with the individual freedoms that Americans cherish. Of primary importance is the belief that enduring political and economic freedom rests on the expectation of society for ethical and compassionate behavior. The successful entrepreneur should understand the importance of behavior, and return value to the system that has provided for his/her success.
The Center is pursuing several major goals:
One—Administer the annual Entrepreneurial Roundtable. This spring event gathers business practitioners, faculty, and students to the Lamoni campus to learn, question, network, and be inspired by each other. Through a combination of active participation and exposure to nationally-recognized entrepreneurs, participants will eliminate some of their self-imposed limitations.
Two—Support and encourage Graceland Enactus (formerly Students in Free Enterprise, or SIFE). This is a worldwide organization with chapters in over 500 U.S. colleges and universities. Its mission is to provide college students the best opportunity to make a difference and to develop leadership, teamwork and communication skills through learning, practicing and teaching the principles of free enterprise. In 2006 the Graceland SIFE team was named National Champion, and went on to place second at the World Expo in Paris, France. The 2012 Team placed among the top eight US teams at National Expo, and the 2013 team was named a Regional Exposition Champion for the 12th time in 13 years in April 2013.
Three—Sponsor courses in the area of entrepreneurship and free enterprise. When possible, successful entrepreneurs are designated as adjunct faculty and employed to bring another perspective to the classroom. Graceland Enactus is not only a student organization, but is also offered as the C.H. Sandage School of Business course entitled Free Market Practicum, which can be taken for upper division academic credit.
Four—Market and administer the USDA Rural Development Revolving Loan Fund. This program is designed to be a credit outlet for small businesses and startups in Decatur and Ringgold Counties that need extra assistance when starting or expanding their business. Applications are collected and reviewed by the Revolving Loan Board, which is made up of bankers, entrepreneurs and other local business people. Loans are administered by Center staff, and if desired, business consulting is also carried out by the Center Director and Graceland Enactus students.