A Case Study of the Development and Implementation of NIACC’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center
Author(s)Jondle, Kelly Lynn
Educational Administration and Supervision
Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations
Higher Education Administration
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AbstractAmerican community colleges are vital centers of educational opportunity. They are the “neighborhood schools of higher education,” as noted by community college scholar, James Palmer; they are close to home and inclusive of their communities (RCCA, 2016, p. 1). Expected to improve their local, regional, and state economies, community colleges develop and implement educational opportunities that meet the immediate and projected needs of local businesses and industry (Dougherty & Bakia, 2000; Kasper, 2003). In 2014, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) reported that 45 percent of all undergraduates in the United States enrolled in a community college (AACC, 2016, p. 1). In Iowa alone, approximately one of every four Iowans—between the ages of 18 and 64—annually enrolls within a credit or non-credit community college course. During the 2014-2015 academic year (AY), Iowa’s community colleges served 138,642 credit students and 232,480 non-credit students (IADeptofEd, 2017a, p. 9), and awarded 795,235 Associate Degrees (A.A.) and 494,995 certificates (AACC, 2016, p. 2). Consequently, community colleges are viewed as major drivers of economic growth (Milliron & de los Santos, 2004), and “…fulfill a multiplicity of roles within their communities, offering a myriad of educational programs and services” (Bragg, 2001, p. 93). Community colleges provide specialized training, coursework, and educational opportunities that make them key contributors to local community and economic development efforts (Kasper, 2003). Within this study, there is particular interest in the decisions, plans, and execution of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC)—respectively, the implementation of the center. Through a case study method, seven people were interviewed with an eye to understanding the development, continued efforts, and best practices of NIACC’s JPEC. This qualitative approach captured the perspective of the key professionals who played an active role in the development of the JPEC at NIACC, allowing for richness of each participant’s experiences. A case study of a single site interviewing multiple individuals was utilized. The purpose was to speak with key participants involved in the NIACC JPEC development. Specific research questions (RQ) addressed: how and why the center was formed, identification of what the necessary components for implementation were, determination of what considerations are necessary for its continuation, what obstacles are associated with entrepreneurship center (EC) implementation within community colleges, and what are the unique aspects of community college ECs. I utilized an exploratory case study approach that allowed the researcher the opportunity to identify the development, implementation, and organizational workings of NIACC’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center—in its real-world context. Through theme analysis of the recorded and transcribed interview transcripts, eight primary themes were identified, including: JPEC Beginnings, Structure, Education, Leadership, Measuring Success, Community Involvement, Obstacles, and Uniqueness. This information may be helpful to Iowa’s additional 14 community colleges, as well as those beyond the state of Iowa, to provide guidance throughout the process of entrepreneurial center development.