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College of Liberal Arts' Festival of Ideas ignites entrepreneurial spark

Thursday, February 15, 2018 • Media Contact: Teresa Woodard Schnyder

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“Rearview mirrors are good for driving cars, but they aren’t good for careers.”

Chris Christian, co-owner of the Dallas Wings WNBA team and a successful songwriter, offered that insightful wisdom at The University of Texas at Arlington College of Liberal Arts’ Festival of Ideas recently.

Christian, co-owner of the Dallas Wings WNBA team and a successful songwriter, was one of several speakers who captivated the crowd, which included students from UTA, the Arlington Independent School District and International Leadership of Texas, as well as faculty, staff and community members.

The 2018 Festival of Ideas centered on entrepreneurship and innovation, with a keen focus on how liberal arts majors are well-positioned to succeed at both.

“I have been fortunate to have been in the College of Liberal Arts for more than 30 years and I can bear witness that it does not take a business degree to become a successful business owner,” said Elisabeth Cawthon, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “Conversely, everyone who has earned a degree in business will not necessarily have all of the tools required to maintain a successful business.”

The annual Festival of Ideas is made possible by generous contributions from alumnus Mustaque Ahmed. An endowment from Ahmed, a 1981 graduate of UTA, created the College of Liberal Arts’ Festival of Ideas Global Institute. Ahmed’s goal was to create an outlet for students and the community to explore cultural and academic ideas together. This year’s festival explored the global link to entrepreneurship and offered current and future entrepreneurs a venue to share their successes and struggles.  

UTA is an exceedingly healthy starting ground for entrepreneurs and innovators. In the last five years, UTA faculty have received more than 100 patents. About 60 faculty and students are working on start-up businesses, with more than 20 companies currently developing around UTA.

More than one speaker reminded the crowd that believing in what one does and being motivated by one’s cause is an important factor in success.

“The phrase find your passion may seem overused but it should not be underestimated in entrepreneurship,” Cawthon said. “It is even better if your passion becomes the solution to someone else’s problem. We aren’t all going to save the world, but some of these future entrepreneurs just may.”

Click here for more information and a photo gallery from the event.