Students studying outside the library
Wofford's Mungo Center cultivates entrepreneurs

Program gives its students support to succeed


Wofford College's Mungo Center offers programs that provide students with in-depth training in consulting and project management skills. Shown here are Kerry Woods, left, and Kaci Brasher.

By Trevor Anderson
The Spartanburg Herald-Journal
Published: Saturday, February 16, 2013

On a lime green wall in Scott Cochran's office, the dean of Wofford College's Mungo Center for Professional Excellence uses a dry erase marker to draw a picture.

The image he depicts is that of a square.

To the casual observer, it might appear to be an average quadrangle, with congruent sides and four right angles. But in Cochran's entrepreneurial-centric world, it carries significant meaning.

The interior of the box is a metaphor for what he calls “the space.” It's a place where interdisciplinary studies, curiosity, hard work and preparation converge and come into focus.

Outside of the box, those concepts become vague and peripheral. Within the box, anything is possible.

And that is what he's aiming for within the walls of the Mungo Center.

Cochran said it's a space where students can launch their business ideas through mentoring, networking, project-based experience, and consulting and project management — a step up from the job listing and resume editing services traditionally offered by college career offices.

“This is where higher education needs to go,” Cochran said. “I really believe that we are staking out new territory. We are on the tip of the spear.”

Cochran, a 1988 graduate of Wofford and father of three, stepped away from a lucrative career in finance to teach. He developed and founded the Mungo Center in 2010, starting in a small office in the Campus Life building.

“I was out there (in the corporate world) interviewing people, and I noticed that many of them just seemed to be missing x or y,” Cochran said. “We developed these programs around those x's and y's to make our students better prepared when they leave college.”

Last year, the center took up residence in the college's new, three-story Michael S. Brown Village Center. Completed in the fall of 2011, the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Silver certified building houses 80 students in four-bedroom apartments on the top two floors. The building includes office and meeting spaces, classrooms, a market and a café.

The Mungo Center's wing is on the ground floor. The facility is clean and contemporary. Students huddle at round tables, drinking coffee and talking. They have access to technology and other amenities. The walls are painted with whiteboard paint, and the students are encouraged to write their ideas on them.

“This was the perfect fit for us,” Cochran said. “It gives us more visibility, and allows us to do a lot of things. The students really like it. It's a great place for them to do what they need to do. It feels like a place where anything can get done.”

On Saturday, the center hosted a gala where it unveiled what Cochran referred to as “The Mungo Center 3.0,” which encompassed the launch of its new “The Space” brand and programs designed to give more students an opportunity to participate.

A crowd that included local business leaders, alumni, donors, potential investors and others were able to take a look at 14 student-led companies competing in the center's business plan competition. It also featured dozens of exhibits from the 60 students involved in its Success Initiative, a program open to students of all majors that emphasizes innovation and creative problem solving

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