LaunchNET Kent State honored at international conference

Team wins Student Engagement Award at Deshpande Symposium

On Tuesday, June 11, LaunchNET Kent State was honored with the annual “Excellence in Student Engagement” award from the Deshpande Symposium on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education. There were five categories with honors presented to six institutions, two organizations and three individuals. The awards program is overseen by Raj Melville, executive director of the Deshpande Foundation. The symposium takes place at UMass Lowell and was started by the foundation’s co-founder, technology entrepreneur Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande.

“The awardees represent best practices in innovation and entrepreneurship and serve as role models in academia,” said Melville. The student engagement award recognizes “an institution that encourages student leadership and engagement in developing innovative extra and co-curricular activities that support the development of entrepreneurial awareness, skills and practice.” The Master of Ceremonies for the event was two-time Kent State alumni Jack Wilson, former UMass system president and founder of the Jack M. Wilson Center for Entrepreneurship at UMass Lowell. 

“As a campus-wide catalyst and ambassador for collaborative innovation and entrepreneurship, LaunchNET Kent State is extremely honored to receive this prestigious award,”  said Julie Messing, executive director of entrepreneurship initiatives at LaunchNET. “Our team continues to work on connecting resources and promoting the entrepreneurial mindset across the university and the community. We are incredibly proud of the creativity and hard work of the 1,800-plus students that we have served and are thrilled to be part of their journey.”

In addition to receiving the award, the LaunchNET team helped lead the opening keynote session for the 300+ attendees from across the world, titled “Six Degrees of Deshpande,” which used ESRI mapping technology to illustrate the connections and impact across the world of the network built from the eight years that the Deshpande Symposium has occurred. The keynote was led by Burton D. Morgan Foundation CEO Deborah Hoover and Messing and featured an introduction from Mellville. Joining Hoover and Messing were Victoria Broer, Burton D. Morgan Foundation; Dee Dee Chatham, University of Rhode Island; JiMi Choi, Arizona State University; Heather MacNeill, University of New Hampshire; and Emily Finbow Texas A&M. Each shared their stories of collaborations created through Deshpande Symposium connections.

With Messing’s assistance as moderator, Broer presented information from the Deshpande on the Road program that brought participants from across the country to Northeast Ohio to learn more about the regional entrepreneur ecosystem. The story maps were created in collaboration with Kent State University Libraries’ Michael Hawkins and Jessica Fisher.

"I am pleased, but not surprised to learn that LaunchNET Kent State has been recognized with Deshpande’s Excellence in Student Engagement award, “ said Ken Burhanna, Dean of Kent State University Libraries. “Julie Messing and her staff impact Kent State students on a daily basis, helping them to develop key entrepreneurial skills that will serve them as students, innovators, citizens and lifelong learners. I am proud to call LaunchNET part of our winning team at Kent State."


[Photo: Kent State University LaunchNET was presented with the Excellence in Student Engagement in Entrepreneurship Award by the Deshpande Symposium on Tuesday, June 11. Shown at the awards event are, from left, Jack Wilson, former UMass system president and founder of the Jack M. Wilson Center for Entrepreneurship at UMass Lowell (and Kent State alum: 1970, 1972); Tabitha Messmore, advisor, venture inititiatives, LaunchNET; Julie Messing, executive director of entrepreneurship initiatives at Kent State University and LaunchNET; Zach Mikrut, program manager, LaunchNET; JR Campbell, executive director, Kent State University Design Innovation Initiative; and Ji Mi Choi of Arizona State University, a Deshpande Symposium steering committee member. Photo credit: Tory Wesnofske for the Deshpande Symposium]

POSTED: Tuesday, June 18, 2019 - 10:24am
UPDATED: Thursday, October 31, 2019 - 3:34pm
LaunchNET Kent State