Dyan Brasington

What a day! Last week Towson University celebrated the 20th Anniversary of its Economic Outlook Conference (EOC), while the University released its economic impact report for its 150th anniversary.

Anniversaries offer an opportunity to reflect, but importantly, particularly for Towson University, we use this time to also look forward to our exciting future. We are a university embracing growth, change, innovation and new opportunities.

Economic Outlook Conference

Attendees listen to panelists discuss the benefits of conscious capitalism.

Apropos of looking forward, Dr. Irani presented his Maryland Economic Forecast. While some in attendance seemed dismayed that his prediction indicated a slowdown in the economy on the horizon, the research was telling and provided substantive information useful to business, government and individuals alike.

Embracing new and dynamic concepts, the theme of the Economic Outlook conference was Conscious Capitalism. Conscious Capitalism is an integrated management approach where a company values giving back to the community, embraces all stakeholders, and creates a culture that considers the overall sustainability and purpose of the organization in its decision making. Partnering with the Central Maryland Chapter for Conscious Capitalism enhanced the program and brought thought-provoking speakers and panelists forward, who throughout the conference held lively discussions during the question and answer period.

Ed Freeman

Ed Freeman is a leader in stakeholder management.

We were lucky to have Ed Freeman kick off our morning session. Ed has really led the conversation on Conscious Capitalism and stakeholder management theory at the national level. His talk was imbued with humor (Isn’t business ethics an oxymoron? You know, like jumbo shrimp!) and really made the case as to why integrating all stakeholders (governmental bodies, political groups, trade associations, trade unions, communities, financiers, suppliers, employees, customers) allows for corporations to be more profitable in the long run. In fact, ‘conscious’ businesses consistently outperform the market (S&P Index) by a factor of 10.5.

The luncheon keynote speaker, John Montgomery, discussed the advent of the “B” Corp or Benefit Corporation. B Corps go hand-in-hand with the Conscious Capitalism movement, allowing businesses to create a mission-driven company. Maryland was an early adopter of this form of incorporation that from a legal perspective empowers companies to make decisions based on what is good for all stakeholders and not just a return on investment for shareholders only.

In all, it was a very interesting day. I look forward to next year’s conference.Our TU Incubator will continuing to bring conscious capitalism resources and dialogue to our community.

Stephanie Chin


Towson University’s Student Launch Pad will host its last program of the fall semester on December 1 that allows students a peak into the Etsy economy.

The Etsy Economy

Etsy is an online marketplace where artists and collectors sell their handmade and vintage goods. Founded in 2005, Etsy now includes more than 20 million products and over one million sellers worldwide. In the last year alone, they generated over $895 million in sales. Entrepreneurs are able to easily build businesses that allow them flexibility and independence. Across the globe, millions of people are able to support their families in what is known as the ‘Etsy Economy.’

“An Etsy economy is a people-powered economy with person-to-person commerce. It’s the feel of a farmer’s market instead of a supermarket,” said Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson.

Student Launch Pad Speaker Series

The Speaker Series event will feature Sarah Morrison, founder, Paper Built, an Etsy shop delivering unique printable paper crafts and party supplies. Paper Built was established in Baltimore three short years ago and has since collected over 3,000 admirers, a 5 star rating, and 10,000+ sales on Etsy.

Students will have the unique opportunity to learn firsthand how to create a successful Etsy store and what it means to be a freelancer. Sarah will share her Etsy tips as well as freelance experience as an architect and how those lessons can be applied to any opportunity or field.

Student Launch Pad Etsy & Freelancing

The event is scheduled for Tuesday, December 1, 3:30-4:45 pm in West Village Commons, Room 307. This program is the conclusion of a very eventful semester. After Tuesday’s upcoming Speaker Series, Student Launch Pad will have hosted, partnered on, or participated in a total of 18 unique events on campus!

Student Launch Pad is proud to support student entrepreneurs and bring real world entrepreneurs to Towson University. Join us for the last program of the semester, explore the intricacies of building an Etsy shop, and become part of the Etsy economy.




This year marks Towson University’s 150th Anniversary. To celebrate, the Regional Economic Studies Institute (RESI) conducted a study regarding the impacts Towson University has had on Maryland’s economy and its communities since opening in 1866. RESI’s researchers and economists used information regarding the University’s operations, graduates, alumni giving, TU Foundation giving, student spending, and events to estimate these impacts. It is clear from this comprehensive report that Towson University contributes to Maryland’s economy in numerous ways, everything from the most obvious – students spending money in our community – to the most long lasting – our talented graduates living and working within our state.

TU150 Economic Impact Study: Executive Summary

Here you find the Executive Summary of Towson University’s Economic Impact, which highlights the big numbers of the comprehensive study.
TU150 Economic Impact Study

TU150 Economic Impact Study: Video

In partnership with the Office of Partnerships and Outreach and the Division of University Marketing and Communications, a video was produced to accompany the study.

TU150 Economic Impact Study: Full Report

If you have more time and would like to view the full study and learn the methodology used, please read the study in its entirety.

TU150 Economic Impact Study

Stephanie Chin


The Towson University Incubator’s annual Business Plan Competition will soon be open for participation. The annual competition encourages entrepreneurship, small business growth, and innovation and provides valuable feedback on business ideas. As always, entrepreneurs and startups in the Baltimore-Washington region are encouraged to apply for a chance to win, among other prizes, resident membership at TU Incubator, Towson University’s edtech-focused business incubator. Returning is the ‘student-only’ category, which debuted last year with great success, in addition to the ‘professional’ category. With more than 40 executive summaries submitted in round one of last year’s competition, we can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store.

2016 Business Plan Competition Timeline

The 2016 Business Plan Competition timeline is outlined below:

Business Plan Competition

  • Monday, February 8, 2016:
    2016 BPC Q&A Session
  • Monday, February 22, 2016:
    Executive Summaries Due
  • Monday, March 21, 2016:
    Presentation Boot Camp (finalists only)
  • Monday, April 18, 2016:
    Full Business Plan and PowerPoint Presentation Due
  • Wednesday, May 4, 2016:
    Public Finale and Power Networking Reception


Business Plan Competition Successes

You may be wondering what happens after the competition ends and winners are selected. Here’s a glimpse at what some of our previous winners have accomplished since winning the competition and joining the incubator.

  • 2015 BPC student category winner, ShapeU, has raised over $150,000 and is in the process of building a new board to include some of the largest influencers in Baltimore’s media and fitness spaces, hiring its 10th employee, and finalizing deals to launch at Brick Bodies within the next month. The team is also beginning the next phase of development for a dedicated iOS mobile app.
  • During the inaugural 2011 BPC, the tied first place winner, Pure Bang Games, was pre-revenue and in the midst of a seed round. After winning the competition, the company successfully raised $250,000 from approximately half a dozen investors and has doubled its revenue year over year. Pure Bang Games is cross platform with games played by more than 6 million people worldwide. One of its games, Blitzcrank’s Poro Roundup, developed for a client, received approximately 50,000 reviews with an average rating of 5 stars on iTunes app store. Pure Bang Games graduated from TU Incubator in 2014, and CEO, Ben Walsh, now shares his expertise as a member of TU Incubator’s Mentor Network.

Be on the lookout in the coming weeks for the official launch of the 2016 Business Plan Competition! Stay tuned and learn more about the Business Plan Competition here.

Dyan Brasington

A couple months back, I wrote about the impact the Towson University Professional Leadership Program for Women had on participants, their employers and their organizations.

On January 20, 2016, we will welcome another class of women from diverse backgrounds to Towson University for another semester-long program. Once again, the Leadership Program will allow participants to

  • understand their personal leadership style.
  • practice communicating with authority, projecting a professional presence, having difficult conversations, handling crisis communications, and networking.
  • learn how to negotiate effectively, identify organizational culture, and excel within organizations.
  • develop their personal brand and a road map for the future.
Ellyn Spragins

Ellyn Spragins

We will kick off the semester with a seminar by Ellyn Spragins, New York Times best-selling author of the What I Know Now series of books. Spragins will lead participants in a Letters To My Younger Self® Seminar. This exercise is a way for leaders to share their wisdom with others in their organization. This seminar fits in nicely and allows

    • leaders to share their wisdom with colleagues.
    • employees to overcome leadership obstacles and become better leaders.
    • organizations to offer greater access to their leaders’ deepest values.

Spragins’ books and seminars have been inspiring women since 2006, when she authored What I Know Now: Letters To My Younger Self. Since that time, she wrote What I Know Now About Success (2010) and If I’d Known Then: Women In Their 20s and 30s Write Letters to Their Younger Selves (2008). Prior to writing these books, Spragins was a columnist at The New York Times and Editor-At-Large at Fortune Small Business. Her articles have also appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, Working Woman, Bloomberg Personal, Worth, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Ladies Home Journal and Town & Country.

Leadership Program Timeline

As I said in my last blog post, I couldn’t be more confident in the need, uniqueness, impact, and approach of our program. If you or a colleague are interested in becoming part of this growing leadership network, click here to receive an application and a program schedule.

      • 11/20/15: Applications Due
      • 12/7/15: Participants Notified of Selection
      • 01/12/16: Semester Begins with Letters To My Younger Self® Seminar by Ellyn Spragins
      • 06/07/16: Graduation

Leadership Newsletter

Although we would like to be able to accept more women into the program, constraints only allow for a limited number of participants. However, I urge you to stay up-to-date with us and sign up to receive our newsletter. This monthly e-newsletter highlights participant successes and updates from our program facilitator Kathleen Case. You can sign up by sending us an email.



In September, I wrote about Elizabeth Green’s discussion on What Makes a Teacher Great? at Towson University as part of the Presidential Scholar Signature Forums Series.

This month I want to invite you to join Towson Univeristy Presidential Scholar, Dr. Nancy Grasmick, for the seventh event in the Presidential Scholar Signature Forums Series. Dr. Grasmick will moderate a discussion on November 16 titled Supporting Baltimore’s Students from Pre-K through College.

It Takes A Village to Raise A Child

That age-old saying has been reiterated across news cycles over-and-over again in the wake of Baltimore’s uprisings. We’ve seen stories of communities coming together to support youth and their neighborhood schools; however, much remains to be done. On November 16th, join three of Baltimore’s most visible voices on education and community for a frank and open conversation about what is working, what is needed, and what role everyone can play to support Baltimore’s students and thus its future.

  • Jason Botel

    Jason Botel

    Wes Moore

    Wes Moore

    Wes Moore, Author, Social Entrepreneur, Political Analyst, and Community Leader

  • Jason Botel, Former longtime Baltimore-KIPP Executive Director, Executive Director of Maryland CAN, and school choice expert
  • Moderator: Dr. Nancy Grasmick, Past Superintendent of Maryland State Schools and Towson University’s first Presidential Scholar for Innovation in Teacher and Leader Preparation
Dr. Nancy Grasmick

Dr. Nancy Grasmick

Key questions that will be addressed:

  • How can schools be created to best support under-served students?
  • What support systems are necessary outside of the classroom?
  • What can business leaders do to support students through college?
  • What are the biggest current barriers to student success?
  • What is Bridge Edu and how can it support college completion?
  • What are some innovative ideas/programs that have been tried and worked?

This free event will take place on Monday, November 16, 2015 in the Minnegan Room at Towson University, 4-6 p.m. Seats are limited — register today for this free event.

About the Presidential Scholar Signature Forums

The Preparing for Public Education in the 21st Century: Signature Forums speaker series focuses on providing Maryland’s education leaders, parents, teachers, and policy makers with access to the newest information and research on current and pertinent education topics. These forums provide a unique opportunity for education stakeholders to interact with national experts at the top of their field and access to the most up-to-date research for teacher preparation. Learn more at http://signatureforums.org.



Towson University is one of the most community-engaged universities in the country and university-community partnerships are an essential part of TU’s identity and mission. As you can see from my past blog posts here, here, here, and here–we’ve been working for a long time to figure out the best way to track, evaluate, and support these partnerships.

University-Community Partnerships and Relationships Support System

In academic year 2014-2015, we launched a new University-Community Partnerships and Relationships Support System that does just that. This new system, developed by the Partnerships Working Group – which includes 16 members from across the university–provides definitions, categories, and evaluation tools for partnerships and relationships.

In Spring 2015, we did our first information collection using the new system. We found some pretty amazing results! We received information about 162 partnerships and relationships. A vast majority of these are taking place in Central Maryland, with 86 doing work in Baltimore City.

Towson University Partnerships

We also found that our partnerships and relationships are having huge impacts on the communities we serve. The five most common impacts we found were:

  • Supporting education in Maryland and improving college readiness and completion
  • Providing quality professional development and training that fits Maryland’s needs
  • Promoting community development
  • Producing leaders and graduates who are prepared for a more global economy
  • Improving Maryland’s economic competitiveness and addressing critical skills gaps

Additionally, our partnerships and relationships are producing measureable outcomes for our students, the community, and the faculty and staff leading them. The most common outcomes identified were:

  • Meet a community need
  • Enhance community relationships
  • Positive Impact or Measureable Change in the Community
  • Student Learning
  • Academic or Non-Academic Presentation/Publication

As you can see, our partnerships and relationships are producing BIG results! We plan to keep building on this momentum to keep supporting these partnerships and relationships and collecting information about new ones.

Community Partnerships: 2015 Status Report

If you’d like to read the whole 2015 status report, you can view it here.

Tracy Jacobs, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute


You’re getting older! Crow’s feet and gray hairs aside, the alternative isn’t too inviting. Within the next 15 years, it is predicted that one out of every five people in the United States will be 65 or older. In Maryland alone, over 14% of the state’s population is retired or soon to retire. Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Towson University is a part of a national network of Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, each affiliated with a college or university. At Towson, Osher operates out of the Center for Professional Studies within the Division of Innovation & Applied Research. As an organization, Osher is a bit of an outlier within this context. While CPS is busy training an emerging workforce to take over jobs that are being vacated by the retiring population, Osher is busy addressing the continuing education needs of this growing demographic.

Continuing Education for a Growing Population

Osher Lifelong Learning InstituteOsher Lifelong Learning Institute at Towson University offers classes, lectures, day trips, book groups, film series, and discussion groups for retired and semi-retired people, ages 50 and older. Osher members at Towson range in age from 50 to 92, representing different generations within their ranks. Members include those who served in World War II as well as hippies of the Baby Boomer generation and everything in between. Each member has his or her unique set of experiences but all cherish the idea of learning for the sake of learning.

Osher Lifelong Learning InstituteAt Osher, they find themselves in a learning community that provides a variety of college-level courses without the onus of studying, taking exams, doing homework, etc. Over 600 members strong (and growing), Osher members fill up classes on everything from the recent “Bugs to Bones” forensic science class taught by Towson professor, Dana Kollmann, to “Confronting Evil”, a class that focuses on the Holocaust survival through the behavioral science lens of Fred Emil Katz, a Holocaust survivor and retired professor of sociology. The range of courses available includes classes on superheroes, Virginia Woolf, Brazil, pharmaceuticals, French wines, and more.

A Personal Perspective

From my perspective, aging is looking pretty desirable if it means the continued possibility of taking classes and being part of a supportive community of learners. I was able to cajole my mother-in-law to join Osher this semester. She had to be coaxed a bit but now that she has taken classes, she is excited for more. After caring for and losing her mother, she had a rough couple of years and she seemed to withdraw quite a bit. Her outlook is changing and while I can’t give Osher all of the credit, I believe it’s been a large part of giving her back a sense of belonging and confidence. I think that’s true for a lot of the Osher members. Many have suffered the loss of a spouse, children, or even a sense of purpose that comes from no longer being involved in a career. Osher has given them more than just the opportunity to take interesting classes—“it’s also offered them the chance to meet new people and form friendships, to participate in “extracurricular” activities, and to volunteer by getting involved in the different committees that Osher relies on to help keep programs and activities strong.

Osher Lifelong Learning InstituteIn upcoming blog posts, I hope to introduce readers to some of the Osher members who will share their stories with us. We hear the adage that “age is just a number” and based on the vitality of our members, I think it’s true. In the time that you’ve taken to read this post, you’re that much older and closer to the opportunity to join Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Towson University. Lucky you!

Interested in learning more? Send us an email at osher@towson.edu or find us on Facebook.

Frank Bonsal III Director of Entrepreneurship at Towson University


Hint: It’s rarely pegged to funding

Back in the spring, I digested a study entitled “The Single Biggest Reason Startups Succeed” conducted by Pasadena, California-based Idealab and shared by its founder, Bill Gross via March 2015 TED talk that imparts an overview of the study. Gross walks the audience through the rationale for the outcomes, the gradation of reasons why startups succeed. Consider the study’s outcomes in the image below.Why do StartUps succeed?

It is difficult to disagree with the Idealab success criteria above. Interestingly, most of these factors are pliable, even changeable—you can pivot into a different business model, raise more capital, change out the team, or even wholly re-position your idea. But if you’re too early or too late, if the ‘dogs aren’t eating the dog food,’ if your end users aren’t ready or there’s too much market noise—there’s not much you can do. Your timing is too far off, and you must make sincere strategic decisions. Hopefully, you discover the timing disconnect early on in the build out.

Whats Missing?


Image source: SAP — Concur

But, there is also one critical missing piece in the Idealab study: CULTURE. In every startup in which I have ever been involved, the unique culture of an emerging company is its determining factor in its survival, its adaptive nature, ultimately its success. Culture is built on a determined, patterned set of values and processes unique to an enterprise. Culture is obviously bolstered by team and individuals but is more often a conscious effort in human relations, systems and activities rather than merely team chemistry. Simply stated, culture is at the heart of what works in the inevitable, often volatile peaks and valleys of startups and fast-growing businesses.

A great startup culture endures the inevitable often unseen ‘punch in the face’ like no other. The right startup culture brings out relationships that help endure the inevitable hardships in a fast growing business.

A great startup culture “can boost morale by making the workday more pleasant, which translates into higher productivity and lower employee attrition. It can also improve external relationships, leading to happier clients and more effective collaboration with vendors.”

Ready to Build the Right Startup Culture?


When building the right startup culture, make a concerted effort to build on 1) strengths, 2) simplicity, 3) space, and 4) systems. If you get these right in the early days, you have a chance of being a contender, a chance of moving forward, a chance to go the distance so that, when all is said and done, you might have your hand raised in victory. In the words of British anthropologist, Mary Douglas, who to my knowledge was never a formal pugilist, “If you want to change the culture, you will have to start by changing the organization.” So, startup founders, be sure to build an organization on a common set of values that yields the culture that will make you thrive.

Stephanie Chin


Student Launch Pad is excited to partner with Towson University’s Career Center and College of Business & Economics for our Student Launch Pad Kick-Off Event. This free event offers students a unique opportunity to engage with leaders from three of the largest companies in the area and get a glimpse of the innovative environment their companies offer and the types of candidates they are seeking. During the event, Why Innovation & Entrepreneurship Matter to Fortune 500 Companies, Towson University and other local college and university students will be able to grow their networks and gain valuable insight into the company values and offerings.

Student Launch Pad Kick-Off Event Panelists

The evening’s panel will feature:

  • Kevin Culley, Sr. Director – Business Development, Innovation at Under Armour
    Founded in 1996 by former University of Maryland football player Kevin Plank, Under Armour is the originator of performance apparel – gear engineered to keep athletes cool, dry and light throughout the course of a game, practice or workout. Kevin Culley has worked at Under Armour since 1999.
  • Aashish Tripathi, Head of Business Development, Amazon Launchpad
    Amazon Launchpad, based in Seattle, WA, is a unique program of Amazon that showcases cutting-edge products from startups.
  • Tony Battaglia, Bel Air Store Team Leader, Target
    Target, based in Minneapolis, MN, has a long history of innovation from its award-winning app, to customized store layouts, and creative design collaborations.

Student Launch Pad Kick-Off Event Details

The event, scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 5-7 pm in Towson University’s Paws Cafe, is free and open to all students. Paws Café is located on the first floor of the University Union. Light snacks will be provided courtesy of the Career Center. We hope you will join us for an exciting evening, exploring your entrepreneurial spirit, and learning from leading innovative organizations. The event is sure to be a hit among student entrepreneurs, job seekers, graduating seniors, and students looking for ways to add unique skills to their arsenal and become more involved on campus.

Although the Student Launch Pad Kick-Off Event is FREE, attendees are encouraged to learn more and RSVP here.

Student Launch Pad Kick Off Event

Student Launch Pad is proud to support student entrepreneurs and local innovation. We have a variety of Student Launch Pad programs and events scheduled for the rest of the Fall semester; check them out at www.TUlaunchpad.com.