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Clarkson heralded for graduate success, entrepreneurship

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POTSDAM — Three months into his job as Clarkson University’s provost and senior vice president, Charles E. Thorpe has reason to smile.

The school was recognized recently by ABC News among a list of universities whose graduates make higher starting salaries than Harvard’s.

Clarkson graduates make a median starting salary of $57,900, topping the Harvard grads’ median salary of $54,100, the story said.

The university excels because of its focus on in-demand fields, Mr. Thorpe said.

“The majors we produce are the ones that are immediately useful for our economy,” he said.

Mr. Thorpe also attributed the graduates’ success to Clarkson’s concentration on the business end of their chosen fields.

“We’ve paid special attention in our curriculum to entrepreneurship,” he said. “Every first-year business student has to start a company. Students on day one are learning about finance and inventory and supply chains, so that when they go study accounting and finance and supply chains, they have a hands-on feel on these topics.”

Recently, Clarkson’s Entrepreneurship Program was ranked among the nation’s best by the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur Magazine.

The publications surveyed 2,000 business school administrators to compile a list of 50 programs — 25 graduate and 25 undergraduate. Clarkson placed 15th on the list.

Clarkson students are creating successful, lasting businesses, Mr. Thorpe said.

For example, one group of students started selling fair trade coffee on campus. That initiative became Entrepreneur Coffee, Mr. Thorpe said.

“It was such a great idea we encouraged all campus food service to use the fair trade coffee and now it has spread off campus as well,” he said.

Last year, another group came up with an idea to allow people to order food and drinks from the stands of Cheel Arena by using their wireless devices.

“I wish I had thought of that idea,” Mr. Thorpe said. “These students were freshmen and they spent the summer talking to people at places like Yankee Stadium.”

The success is from linking technology and science development to the budding entrepreneurs on campus, Mr. Thorpe said.

“Studying business just for the sake of business isn’t nearly as useful as linking business to an engineering field, a science field or a humanities field,” he said. “Those kinds of connections are great — and they are happening on this campus.”

The school also boasts two agencies, the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship and the Shipley Center for Innovation, that act as technology and business incubators for the campus and the region.

“It is the only incubator north of Syracuse,” Mr. Thorpe said. “We are serving a large region with a lot of good ideas in it that deserve to become not just good ideas, but good companies.”

Mr. Thorpe said Clarkson’s compact campus played a role in graduates’ success.

“It is definitely an advantage,” he said. “We’re never going to be as large as the University of Michigan, but if you are an engineering student, you are on the engineering campus and you have to get into a car and drive to talk to someone at the business school. We take advantage of our relatively modest size.”

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