UMSL establishes Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, names Scott Morris director

by | Sep 25, 2023

The center will provide resources to UMSL students in all colleges and academic disciplines, including scholarships and funding opportunities.
A white male in a button down shirt, stands, arms folded outside in front of foliage.

Scott Morris has been named the director of the newly launched Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center at UMSL. (Photo by Derik Holtmann)

The University of Missouri–St. Louis is expanding the scope of its entrepreneurship program with the launch of the new Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center as part of the College of Business Administration. It will serve as the hub connecting academic and community-based activities of the entrepreneurship program, UMSL Accelerate, and oversee the renovated Accelerate building, which will house the new center.

“This center will provide an array of valuable services for entrepreneurs, managers and businesses,” said Michael Elliott, interim dean of the College of Business Administration. “It is designed to be interdisciplinary and will provide resources to UMSL students in all colleges and academic disciplines. It will present awards and scholarships, provide funding opportunities, and oversee business competitions and access to student organizations.”

There are also plans to establish new initiatives, including a business essentials workshop series, an UMSL Accelerate Minority and Women Entrepreneurs Program, a distinguished speaker series and a Leadership Development for Entrepreneurs program.

Scott Morris, after 30 years as a leader in the corporate world, is stepping into the role as the center’s inaugural director. He is excited about this new journey and looks forward to helping students and entrepreneurs meet their business goals.

Morris’ background in corporate America centered on helping employers grow their companies, specializing in strategy, business development, mergers and acquisition and holding division president roles. He has served in various B2B and B2C industries, including manufactured products or components, software and technology.

“You can still keep in touch with that old life,” he said, thinking of how his corporate experience will meld with his foray into academia. “It wasn’t just a complete hard stop to turn the page to the next chapter. It’s a very unique combination of both.”

UMSL Accelerate, Morris believes, is already doing well. He is looking to continue its success and grow its capacity, making it a major resource for entrepreneurs in St. Louis as part of the Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“We’re starting from an absolute place of strength,” Morris said. “One of the primary objectives will be to take the Hippocratic Oath, and say, ‘We will do no harm to this wonderful program.’ The DEI Accelerator is one of the cornerstone programs. We’re going to focus on making sure that continues to be strong, grow it and really make it a core part of the community. The immediate actions will be to take those things that we’re doing well, and just make sure we continue to nurture and grow them, while simultaneously looking for new ways to enhance the program.”

Morris plans to utilize the network of business professionals he developed over the past 30 years to assist entrepreneurs with their goals, keeping a foot in the past as he moves forward in his new roles.

After deciding to leave corporate America, Morris wasn’t certain of his next steps. He’d considered academia but didn’t know where he’d fit in. A friend he’d known since high school introduced him to Mitch Millstein, a professional practice professor in the Department of Supply Chain and Analytics in the College of Business Administration.

Millstein met Morris for lunch, and after giving him a tour of the campus, suggested he get a PhD or DBA to stand out from other business people who want to teach. Morris began looking into DBA programs and landed on the one at UMSL, finding the offerings and age diversity of the cohort appealing.

“As an older student especially, that’s one of the things that appealed to me about the program,” Morris said. “They’re looking for students of any age that don’t necessarily follow that traditional academic path and academic timeline.”

While in the program, he became enamored with UMSL and how invested the instructors and staff were. His dissertation chair, Bindu Arya, chair of the Global Leadership and Management Department, was particularly helpful.

Arya noticed his natural knack for business and analysis and encouraged him to apply for the director role at the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center.

“Given his extensive industry experience, interest and contribution to academia, I was confident that Scott could design industry-relevant courses that would benefit our students,” Arya said. “His amenable nature and diligence make him well-positioned to foster relationships with a variety of stakeholders to successfully grow our programming and partnerships.”

Morris’ second act is shaping up in a way he never could have predicted. His past experience primed him for this unique circumstance.

“I just wanted to be around the students,” Morris said. “I wanted to help them on their journey and mentor them and help launch them into the real world. And all of the things that I’ve done – building, growing, buying, selling businesses – it’s like the perfect combination.”

Morris is happy he found an opportunity at UMSL that affords him the chance to not only utilize the breadth of knowledge he’s amassed over the years but also to help others reach their professional aspirations.

“My goal for the last 15 or so years has been to have a second career,” Morris said, “and in some way, shape or form give back.”

Wendy Todd

Wendy Todd

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