The University recently announced the establishment of the Carol Sawyer Parks Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies, endowed through the generosity of real estate developer and Suffolk Trustee Carol Sawyer Parks.
The Parks family has long supported Suffolk University and its mission. Parks’ father, Frank Sawyer, was a self-made man whose entrepreneurial spirit led to enormous success in the taxicab, rental car, and real estate industries. The Sawyer Building and the Sawyer Business School are named in his honor, and the Mildred F. Sawyer Library is named for Parks’ mother.
The chair is meant for the director of Suffolk University’s Entrepreneurship Programs, and George Moker, in his capacity as the director of these Sawyer Business School programs, has been appointed the first endowed chairholder of the Carol Sawyer Parks Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies.
Q: Under your leadership, the Entrepreneurship Programs have added 30 new courses, gained visibility, and quadrupled in size, from 75 students a decade ago to more than 300 today. Plus, you’ve extended relationships across the University and with businesses and other organizations in the Boston area. Now you’re the first holder of the first chair in Entrepreneurship. How do you feel?
George Moker: It's very exciting. Having something like this where Carol Sawyer Parks made such a sizable commitment to entrepreneurship, to our students, and to the university and the university's legacy—all of that comes together into something that is very, very special, which is what makes it kind of emotional.
Q: Along with growing the program, centralizing the capability, and reaching out to the community, one overall accomplishment is that you’ve made entrepreneurship part of basically every conversation across the Business School.
GM: Yes. The energy that is around this program has been extremely profound—so much so that other departments, other disciplines come up with ideas and want to work together, and they want to do things and break down silos. But the key driver in a lot of those things is that there are a lot of energetic individuals that work at Suffolk, in addition to our highly energetic students.
Q: What’s advice do you give parents and students as they think about college careers?
GM: That there's a sense of urgency of redefining what society looks like, and your child needs to be part of that change. Whether or not your child chooses to do accounting or finance, or data analytics, or marketing, or any major, they should always have the entrepreneurial mindset as either their primary focus or a support focus to something else they're interested in. But it should be in every single person.
Q: Personally, what are you most proud of from your time as director?
GM: Probably the proudest moment is just being allowed to shine in an institution that really shows an incredible amount of support for something new and something important. Suffolk has been incredibly supportive of entrepreneurship, and I've been able to really do a lot of the things I wanted to do.
Q: What can we expect to see in the next three, five, 10 years?
GM: Suffolk has a chance to really lead the entrepreneurial and creative mindsets of academia around the world. The Center will look at opportunities that will drive start-ups, economic development, growth of small businesses, and global connections. That's what the endowment will help us accomplish: It allows Suffolk be in the driver's seat of that vision.
Learn more about the Center for Entrepreneurship.