Minot State receives $2 million gift for its entrepreneurship program

Feb 10, 2016

MSU President Steve Shirley (standing), Conni Ahart and Clint Severson announce $2 million gift to the University.
Credit Minot State University

It's the largest gift in Minot State University's history.

MSU alumnus Clint Severson and Conni Ahart have given $2 million to the University's entrepreneurship program. That program began six years ago, with a $1 million gift from Severson.

Severson is a 1973 gradate of Minot State. He said when he graduated, he felt he had good training – but not enough education.

"They were minting college graduates all around the country, with business degrees," said Severson. "But they had never, ever applied any of what they learned. So, while they were trained, they weren't really educated."

So, Severson gave Minot State $1 million to start an entrepreneurship academy, to give business students hands-on experience.

"I mean -- would you ever go to a dentist that just graduated from dental school, to get your teeth fixed, if he never fixed teeth before?" Severson said. "Would you go to a cardiologist for heart surgery if the guy had never done any heart surgery? Of course, that's what happens in a lot of business schools."

Minot State will be taking the $2 million gift – and will seek another $1 million from the North Dakota Higher Education Challenge Grant Program. The goal is to hire faculty specifically for the entrepreneurship program – and create both a major and a minor.

"That's the next logical step, with the progress we've made in the last four years," said Severson Entrepreneurial Center director Chuck Barney. "If you look at the data across the country, entrepreneurship is the fastest growing business major in the country right now. I think it will become a very strong program in the College of Business."

Barney says there are 20 to 25 students in that program right now – and he hopes the new funding will help to grow that program.