Ryan MacNeil, a professor in the F.C. Manning School of Business at Acadia University, is the inaugural holder of the Rath Professorship in Entrepreneurship.
“The Rath Professorship in Entrepreneurship brings added prestige to a critical aspect of business education at Acadia,” says Dr. Heather Hemming, Interim Vice-President, Academic. “This generous gift allows us to recognize Professor Ryan MacNeil for his significant commitment to heightening our focus on entrepreneurship at Acadia and supporting innovative research. It marks a new chapter in the development of business studies at Acadia.”
She adds that MacNeil’s work through this professorship adds to an already nationally-recognized success in entrepreneurship. The Huffington Post Canada recently named Acadia to its 2016 list of Top 10 Universities in Canada for Future Entrepreneurs.
Professor Ryan MacNeil and Stuart Rath.
The professorship focuses on scholarship that is relevant to business strategy and entrepreneurship at both community and global levels. Truro, Nova Scotia businessman and philanthropist Stuart Rath established the fund to encourage entrepreneurship.
“While I did not have the benefit of a university education myself, I believe strongly in what Acadia offers its students,” said Rath when the gift was announced in March 2017. “I know the University through my son, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and stepdaughter; each of them graduates of this fine institution.”
He said the time was right to show his support for Acadia and encourage the entrepreneurial spirit.
“This is an honour as well as an exciting opportunity that I will share with my students,” MacNeil says. “Stuart Rath sets an admirable example of what it means to be entrepreneurial while also giving back to society; qualities I try to encourage in my students.”
Since joining the business faculty in 2015, MacNeil’s focus has been to nurture student interest in entrepreneurship and innovation. To that end, he has developed several unique opportunities for Acadia students to explore their aspirations.
Last year, MacNeil’s students created 23 pop-up ventures, developed seven prototypes for social impact products and services, employed 3D printing technology to produce product prototypes and small-batch products, vetted 21 business ideas, and implemented 24 service-learning projects in partnership with local businesses. MacNeil also worked with outgoing Acadia Students’ Union President Samantha Sproule to establish a Student Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program at Acadia. The pilot phase of the program is now under way.
The results of MacNeil’s teaching are paying dividends. Last spring, Venture for Canada awarded fellowships to five Acadia business students mentored by MacNeil. From 2,200 applicants to the Venture for Canada program from across Canada, only 65 were invited to participate in the final selection round.
“Ryan is having this impact not only because he is an excellent teacher, mentor, and coach. He also has a tremendous wealth of experience to draw upon regarding what it takes to support entrepreneurial ventures,” says Paul Callaghan, Director of the F.C. Manning School of Business. “His dedication is evident by the demand for the courses he offers, and the increase in the number of students choosing to major in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Acadia.”
In addition to his student-focused endeavours, MacNeil is also researching ocean science and technology innovation, contributing to policy discussions for one of Nova Scotia’s most promising sectors, explains Callaghan.