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Fostering the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ at McKendree University

IBJ Mar14 Page 08 Image 0002    For more than 186 years, McKendree University has provided students with a high quality, personalized education.  Focused on student success, McKendree offers specialized programs and activities designed to support the development of entrepreneurs. From undergraduate and graduate business degree programs, to classes on free market and capitalism, to guest lectures on entrepreneurship, McKendree’s programs and curriculum integrate entrepreneurial and small business themes into real-world business opportunities.
    In 2009, McKendree University started the Wayne E. Lanter Memorial Lecture Series, which brings influential business and entrepreneurial leaders to campus to share their insight and strategies for success with students and the community. The series was established by the family, business associates and friends of the late Wayne Lanter, who grew a one-man trucking operation into a national logistics provider.
    “All of the participants in this series have been important, dynamic players in the entrepreneurial world,” said Dr. Frank Spreng, professor of economics and director of the MBA program.  
    Previous guest speakers include: Joseph Tantillo, president and CEO of Express Design Group Inc.; Jim Allsup, president and chief executive officer of Allsup Inc.; Thomas Schlafly, owner of The Saint Louis Brewery Inc.; Joseph E. Cordell, principal partner and founder of Cordell & Cordell; Don Welge, chairman, CEO and president of Gilster-Mary Lee Corp.; and Dennis Unkovic, international attorney, business advisor and author focused on Asian markets.
    In addition, McKendree received a grant from the Charles G. Koch Foundation to provide classes on Free Markets and Capitalism and a grant from the Wayne E. Lanter Foundation to host an entrepreneurial lunch series. Since 2010, more than 225 students, faculty and staff members have participated in the lunch series, which enables participants to interact with business leaders in a more informal, face-to-face environment.  
    McKendree has produced hundreds of business leaders who have built global companies, owned chain franchises, run mom-and-pop businesses, started consulting companies and opened health-related establishments. Two native Southern Illinois entrepreneurs, Rebecca Herwick and Bud Albers, are among McKendree’s outstanding alumni.
    Rebecca Herwick is the president and chief executive officer of Global Products Inc. in St. Peters. Mo.  The dealer and exclusive designer, manufacturer and distributor of Harley-Davidson official licensed headwear, giftware, novelties and promotional products, Global Products is one of six companies this multi-faceted entrepreneur runs, in addition to her own spiritual trademark line called Divine Threads.
    A graduate of Mascoutah High School and McKendree University, she started her career as a research chemist for Mallinkrodt in St. Louis.  However, her passion for motorcycles led Herwick to become a partner in a motorcycle accessory distribution company, RKS Products in 1983.  Today, she has more than 20 years of experience in the promotional products industry and 15 years of distribution experience outside the United States, with global distribution sites in Canada and Germany.  Being one of the world’s most successful women in business, Herwick is an active member of the National Women’s Business Council, Women Impacting Public Policy and Women President’s Organization, and has been featured in Bloomberg Business, USA Today, Women Entrepreneur and many other international media outlets.
    O’Fallon native Bud Albers is the president and CEO of Interactive Technology Strategies, a St. Louis-based consulting and professional services firm dedicated to helping individuals and companies manage the technological relationship with their customers. Named one of ComputerWorld’s Premier 100 IT leaders in 2008, he graduated with a computer science degree from McKendree University and has been at the forefront of technology innovation in the online, mobile and media space ever since. Prior to venturing out on his own, Albers served as executive vice president and chief technology officer for both Disney’s Interactive Media Group and Walt Disney’s Connected & Advanced Technologies team, where he was responsible for the websites of ABC, ESPN and In addition, he was also senior vice president and chief technology officer at MediaNet Digital, chief technology officer at, and senior vice president and chief technology officer at Getty Images. Albers has also served as an advisory board member to some of the world’s most prominent technology companies, leading Silicon Valley Venture Capital firms and numerous technology startups.

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