Location: Moorhead, MN
Undergraduate and graduate enrollment: 1,919
Full-time faculty: 198
Part-time faculty: 50
Entrepreneurial Mindset course enrollment in 2023: 69 students
Concordia College has a reputation for strong liberal arts programs and a commitment to inspiring its students to become responsibly engaged in the world. From its nationally recognized study abroad programs to its robust recruitment of international students (whose numbers on campus rose to an all-time high in 2021), Concordia fosters a sense of global connectedness from its base in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
The Offutt School of Business vision is to develop global, entrepreneurial, and ethical leaders for a world of change. However, administrators and faculty recognized that the school’s coursework and curriculum were not as intentional about the entrepreneurship pillar as they needed to be. When Bree Langemo approached Concordia College about teaching business law in 2018, the dean immediately hired her. But, in addition to her teaching role, the dean asked Langemo to lead the development of an entrepreneurship curriculum from the ground up.
Langemo’s background fit the assignment perfectly. She had just left a position as the president of the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative in order to move back home to the Fargo-Moorhead area. And, she previously led ELI’s efforts to support higher education in North America. Before coming to ELI, Langemo worked in higher education for more than ten years and piloted the implementation of an Ice House program at Pike’s Peak Community College in Colorado.
Concordia’s strong alumni network of successful entrepreneurs stood ready and waiting to lend its support. One of those alumni was Ron Offutt, the business school’s namesake. “As an alum and entrepreneur, I’m excited to see the implementation of cutting-edge entrepreneurship curriculum that will create the entrepreneurial leaders needed to influence the affairs of the world by solving problems, creating value, and contributing to society,” said Offutt. He is the Founder and Chairman of the R. D. Offutt Company and RDO Equipment Company.
As the Director of the Entrepreneurship Center, Langemo guided Concordia’s creation of a four-course Entrepreneurial Mindset Certificate that complements any major. The Ice House curriculum forms the foundation for the first two courses, Entrepreneurial Mindset I and II. Students then study design thinking and entrepreneurial marketing through a storytelling lens. “We know not every student wants to start a business,” Langemo said. “But for those who want to launch an idea, the classes can be stacked toward an entrepreneurship minor.”
Langemo regularly teaches the foundational courses as well as a freshman-level inquiry seminar that explores the Ice House model in depth and introduces students to the attitudes, behaviors, and skills needed to develop and apply an entrepreneurial mindset.
Concordia’s Entrepreneurship Center extends its impact beyond the business school. For example, the college just launched a new bachelor’s degree called Music and Business Entrepreneurship that combines the music curriculum with the entrepreneurial mindset courses and other business classes.
Concordia works with ELI within the local community to conduct training for academic teams, municipal staff, community leaders, and economic development champions. “My job as Director of the Entrepreneurship Center is internal and external,” Langemo explained. “I work with profit, nonprofit, government, and other partners across our community, offering trainings, activities, and events.”
She also recently assisted in delivering a symposium around the theme Work in the Job Revolution, which featured speakers from around the world and wove entrepreneurship throughout. The one-year-old Entrepreneurship Club provided hands-on support for the symposium, reflecting its impressively robust entry into Concordia’s student activity scene.
“We’ve had great success with the Entrepreneurial Mindset Certificate program,” Langemo said. “We have a really strong pipeline right now.” The number of students taking entrepreneurial mindset courses rose from 10 in 2019 to 65 in 2020 and 86 in 2021. Since then, it’s stayed steady with 70 in 2022 and 69 in 2023.
The number of entrepreneurship minors also grew this year to 26 students—15 of them first-year students. “It’s exciting and affirming that high school graduates are looking for programs like this,” Langemo said. As a result, other departments within Concordia are taking note. For instance, the Sanford Heimarck School of Health Professions invited Langemo in 2020 to help develop a new vision that includes entrepreneurial thinking.
Concordia is just beginning to create and track indicators of its program’s outcomes. For instance, the number of ventures its students launch during and after the entrepreneurship courses. For example, Remember Me Well was started by a student whose loss of her grandmother coincided with an entrepreneurship course. The student realized that her grandmother had been the caretaker of many family gravesites. Therefore, this led to the question of who among the busy relatives would take over that responsibility. She realized other families might have the same problem—leading to a startup business that maintains loved ones’ final resting sites.
New Ways Forward
Concordia is exploring a new pathway to its Entrepreneurial Mindset Certificate program through Tri-College University. The program is open to students at five local higher education institutions. These will include the University of Minnesota-Moorhead and Moorhead and Minnesota State Community and Technical College (M|State). And, Langemo added, “we are currently working with our two-year college partner, Minnesota State Community and Technical College, to encourage community college students to come to Concordia to take our entrepreneurial mindset courses. And, therefore, engage with our Entrepreneurship Club.”
In conclusion, Langemo continues to forge new partnerships outside the realm of higher education. “We’re just starting to make headway into our community effort with corporate engagement, government trainings, and nonprofit collaborations,” she said. “There are many more to come.”