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Lenoir-Rhyne University professor earns prestigious fellowship
Lenoir-Rhyne University professor earns prestigious fellowship

Lenoir-Rhyne University Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship Ralph Griffith has been recognized as a faculty fellow by the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation, which supports and educates emerging servant leaders at southern colleges and universities.

"It's really inspiring," Griffith said. "Many of my colleagues at Sullivan are very esteemed in the field of social enterprise, and it's an honor to be a part of that team."

The Sullivan Foundation supports faculty members who focus on incorporating social innovation and entrepreneurship into their classes or who have proposed projects that seek to deepen knowledge of students interested in the field and its impact on community.

Griffith started the entrepreneurship program at LR in 2013 and has run the business incubator program on campus, which seeks to promote student entrepreneurs. More recently, Griffith has redirected his program development expertise to the newly formed nonprofit management and social entrepreneurship MBA programs based at LR's Asheville campus.

The criteria for being named a fellow includes aiding in the teaching and practice of social innovation and entrepreneurship, participating in forward-thinking learning opportunities, and conceiving a project to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.

For Griffith, that includes a professor-exchange program he initiated where he serves as a visiting professor at the University of Applied Sciences in Nuremberg, Germany, for a week and a half each May with a counterpart visiting LR each November.

Being named a Sullivan fellow coincides with Griffith being named a Fulbright Scholar finalist, which would provide him the opportunity to teach social entrepreneurship to both professors and students in Germany for a full month in the fall 2020 semester.

"It's serendipitous how these initiatives are all perfectly overlapping and coming together," Griffith said. "It's a lot of work up front that is now paying dividends. I'm honored to be among a great group of people who care about business and doing things the right way.

"It's going to give me the opportunity to meet new people and bring new experiences back to the classroom to help my students."

The spring trip typically involves Griffith giving numerous lectures over 10 days and various field trips to analyze entrepreneurs, nongovernmental organizations, and social programs in Germany compared to the United States. However, the Sullivan Foundation was impressed with Griffith's work and has offered to sponsor the event this spring for all of its member schools, to give similar opportunities to Sullivan member institutions and students.