BSC Office of Communications

News from the Hilltop

April 29, 2010

Birmingham-Southern College announces student winners of inaugural Stump Entrepreneurial Challenge

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-Birmingham-Southern College has announced the student winners of the first-ever Stump Entrepreneurial Challenge, a creative plan competition open to all BSC students beyond the sophomore year. First place winners are John McGinnis, a junior undeclared major from Grayson Valley, and MacKenzie Smith, a senior theatre arts major from Auburn. Second place winner is Kathleen Smith, a senior interdisciplinary philosophy/political science/economics major from Hixson, Tenn.

Stump Challenge Winners
First place winners in the Stump Challenge (front, left to right) are John McGinnis and MacKenzie Smith.  Second place winner Kathleen Smith is in back.

The first place entry, receiving a $7,500 prize and created by McGinnis and MacKenzie Smith is "Acts of Love," which would employ the dramatic arts to serve disadvantaged members of the community. Using theatre to support educational, medical and social services, "Acts of Love" offers organization and direction to dramatic artists through engaged community action.

The second place entry, receiving a $2,500 prize and created by Kathleen Smith is the "GEM Initiative," which is a student-developed microfinance organization operating with the BSC Bunting Center for Engaged Study and Community Action and Impact Alabama. Money raised and loaned through this project would support, and in some cases ignite, the personal initiative and entrepreneurial spirit of the poor in our community.

Grounded in a commitment from Kevin and Jane Templeton Stump, both graduates of BSC, with support from an existing endowed fund created by Joseph S. Bruno to inspire resilience and creativity in the free enterprise system, the Entrepreneurial Challenge invited students to participate in a competition in which they advance a coherent plan for a new, creative project-whether in business, non-profit work, service, science, the arts or any other form of endeavor linked to the liberal arts mission of the college.

According to Dr. Stephen Craft, dean of business programs and chair of the department of business and accounting at BSC, entrepreneurial activity is inherently interdisciplinary and a natural fit with the liberal arts. Students of any major and in any field of study were encouraged to participate in the challenge.

"There are two programmatic distinctions with our competition," said Craft. "One is the institution-wide approach that actively engaged students from any and all academic fields including, but not limited to, business students. We were looking for the most creative ideas. The second distinction is that we place social entrepreneurship on the same plain as for-profit entrepreneurship. We do not distinguish between the two in the Stump Challenge."

Kevin Stump is founder, chairman, and CEO of Interconn Resources, Inc., one of the few private, independent natural gas marketing companies in the nation. An entrepreneur since the age of 12, through creativity and hard work, he paid his own way through college at Birmingham-Southern and founded his award-winning and highly successful company in Birmingham.

Stump and his wife, Jane, are making sure that the same entrepreneurial spirit and creative thinking that has served him so well are fostered in current and future BSC students with a major gift to BSC's comprehensive campaign. Their gift established the Stump Entrepreneurial Programs at BSC.

Ten written proposals from an original field of 18 entries were qualified in the challenge. The top four made it to the final round of the competition and were judged by an outside panel including Kevin Stump, Devon Laney who is CEO of Innovation Depot, John Stone who is president and CEO of the Alabama Association of Nonprofits, and Don Thornburg, a BSC alumnus and Norton Advisory Board member who is a retired executive from Southern Company.

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