Office of University Communications & Marketing

UNA Receives Award for Innovation Education

Jun. 12, 2019



Michelle Eubanks, UNA, at meubanks@una.edu, 256-606-2033 or 256-765-4392 

Guy McClure, UNA College of Business, at gymcclure@una.edu, 256-765-4107 or 256-777-0506 


FLORENCE, AL – The University of North Alabama was honored recently at the 8th Deshpande Symposium at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. On Tuesday, UNA’s Institute for Innovation and Economic Development received the Excellence in Curriculum Innovation in Entrepreneurship Award, recognizing outstanding contributions in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship on college and university campuses. The Institute for Innovation and Economic Development is housed within UNA’s College of Business. 

“This award affirms our College of Business is offering students the right blend of innovation and entrepreneurship courses as well as those that will provide experiential and interdisciplinary learning opportunities,” said UNA President Dr. Ken Kitts. “We believe this lays a strong foundation for future career growth and development.” 

The award evaluates programs like UNA’s, measuring the support for innovation and entrepreneurship across curriculum beyond traditional business and management disciplines, student leadership opportunities related to the development of entrepreneurial culture, skills and practice, and evidence of student achievement and success through the programs. 

The Deshpande Symposium is a gathering of more than 300 like-minded practitioners focused on accelerating innovation and entrepreneurship across the college and university environment. Further, the Symposium provided a venue for attendees to learn from each other’s experiences; to gain wider exposure for their ideas, successes, and start-ups; and to collaborate on activities that increase innovation and entrepreneurship in their academic communities. 

“We are extremely excited to once again welcome innovators and thought-leaders from more than 100 colleges and universities worldwide,” said Tom O’Donnell, senior director of innovation initiatives and director of the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub. “With three days packed full of panel sessions, workshops, keynote presentations, an annual awards ceremony, and extensive networking opportunities, the Deshpande Symposium offers a unique opportunity for attendees to share best practices, discuss new ideas, and develop strategic collaborations to help advance innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives on their campuses. 

At the Symposium, UNA participated in a joint panel representing regional universities introducing dynamic ecosystem transformation projects that have changed the economic trajectory of their campuses and their communities. Administrators from UNA’s College of Business, Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, the Smith School of Business and Queen’s University, and the City of Kingston discussed how typical academic approaches, offering new majors and minors, and convening community leaders might be a response, but it is one that doesn’t fundamentally expand its traditional role to fully address the complex challenges of regional economic development and the depletion of the region’s economic sector. 

Represented by Dr. Doug Barrett, Mitch Ham, and Mary Marshall VanSant, UNA was joined by Shoals Business Incubator Director Giles McDaniel to form a panel along with representatives from Queen’s University of Ontario, Canada. The Shoals Business Incubator, along with UNA and the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, supports Shoals Shift, the local effort to attract, nurture, and promote the Shoals creative and tech economy. The Shoals Shift program was the focus of the Deshpande Award proposal and the subject of the panel discussion. 

award winners

About The University of North Alabama 

The University of North Alabama is an accredited, comprehensive regional state university offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs through the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Human Sciences, and the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professionals. Occupying a 130-acre campus in a residential section of Florence, Alabama, UNA is located within a four-city area that also includes Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia. UNA Athletics, a renowned collegiate athletics program with seven (7) Division II National Championships, is now a proud member of the NCAA Division I’s ASUN Big South Conference. The University of North Alabama is an equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate in the admission policy on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, age, or national origin. For more: www.una.edu and www.una.edu/unaworks/ 

About University of Massachusetts Lowell 

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 18,000 students bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe. www.uml.edu.