Creating commerce-Gonzaga U’s Hogan program offers entrepreneurial direction for students in any discipline
Sarah Taylor was
in high school, she
knew she wanted
to study marketing.
By Rob McDonald
Spokesman-Review Staff writer
She had watched
her dad run his
own marketing and
but she wasn’t
direction to take
her own career.
An adviser at
Prep high school
helped narrow her
focus with a
Entrepreneurial Leadership Program.
It was the direction Taylor was looking for.
She is now one of 53 students in the 2-year-old
Hogan program, which is offered through Gonzaga’s
business school. Although the program is about
entrepreneurship, students don’t have to be
business majors to take the classes. They can come
from any discipline Gonzaga offers.
What is more important, say administrators, is that
students are bright with a proven ability to get things
done, whether they’re majoring in English,
engineering or business.
"We look for evidence of them being able to make
things happen. Smart kids inclined toward action,"
said program director Paul Buller. "They’re not just
Taylor, who is now 19, is majoring in business
administration and minoring in art.
The philosophy behind the Hogan program is not
new, but Gonzaga’s version is unique.
Washington State University, the University of
Washington and others offer entrepreneurial
programs and classes for their business majors.
Hogan is for any student who wants to learn about
creating a business, and in the Jesuit tradition, views
entrepreneurship as a way to give back to the
Local business leaders and educators are hoping the
program will spark an entrepreneurial spirit here.
"A big goal of this is the creation of business," said
Jim Barry, president of WindStar Group.
Barry has been on the advisory board of the Hogan
program from the beginning. His own information
systems consulting company won an Agora
Entrepreneur Spirit Award from the Spokane
Regional Chamber of Commerce in 1999, so he
understands the realities of starting a company.
"You’re more committed when you’re on your own.
You’re more likely to work late nights and weekends,"
He’s shared his experiences with the Hogan students.
"Money’s always an issue," he tells them. "There’s
never enough money. Usually it impacts your family."
Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, Barry
said, which is why the program is priming the best
The Hogan program is a good way to help Spokane’s
growing entrepreneurial community develop, said
Randy Long, chief executive of INTEC, a nonprofit
agency working to develop technology skills in the
"When you bring young talented minds together, like
in the Hogan program, you stimulate the creative
process and entrepreneurial spirit," Long said. "You
encourage these kids to start something new that’s
potentially commercially viable. That’s good for
Expectations for the program are high.
"Maybe we’ll find another Bill Gates out there who will
create great commerce," said Ed Hogan, who
provided the seed money for the program.
Hogan is not an alum of Gonzaga. He still
pronounces the name of the university like an
out-of-town broadcaster, calling it Gon-ZAHWG-uh.
Formerly a commercial airline pilot, Hogan founded a
travel service that expanded into hotels in Hawaii.
"Hogan came out of the blue. We’re very happy that
he did," said Buller without blinking an eye.
Hogan, now 74, uses his family’s $100 million
foundation to support causes like the Travel and
Tourism Institute, which links travel with education.
A few years ago, Hogan heard the Rev. Robert
Spitzer, Gonzaga’s president, speak at a leadership
and ethics conference. Hogan was struck by Spitzer’s
The two talked afterward and Hogan mentioned a
tourism industry program his foundation funded at
Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles . He
wondered if Gonzaga could develop a program too.
Spitzer suggested a model that became the Hogan
Entrepreneurial Leadership Program.
Hogan provides $250,000 a year for the program,
which will last indefinitely if the program remains
strong, he pledges.
"All we need is one or two or three successes and
then you’ll have the whole community say, `Can I get
in on that?’ That would be wonderful for the whole
place," Hogan said from his Southern California
home. "That will raise the prestige of the whole area
of Spokane. It’ll certainly make the students’ parents
It’s likely that many Hogan parents are already proud.
The average SAT score for the first Hogan class in
2001 was 1,294 out of 1,600, with a math average of
666. Their average high school GPA was 3.8.
This year’s freshman class had a 1,301 average
score on the SAT. They all scored in the 90
Some members of this year’s Hogan class started
their own businesses in high school. One student
raised and sold pigs. Another sold her knitting
projects. One created a lawn service; another a lawn
service and a Web-development business.
"Why did Bill Gates drop out of Harvard? He left
because there wasn’t enough to keep him engaged,"
Bud Barnes, dean of Gonzaga’s business school,
said entrepreneurship is a far-reaching concept.
"Our feeling is that entrepreneurship is not a
discipline within business," Barnes said. "It cuts
across all businesses."
Clearly, observers of the program are excited about
the potential for business success stories, but
Barnes is somewhat more pragmatic.
"We haven’t had a graduating class yet. In a couple
years we’ll see the fruits of their labors."
Long does not hide his enthusiasm. Several weeks
ago he met with the 53 Hogan students in Jepson
classroom 109 on campus. Almost every seat in the
front row was filled. One student wore a white shirt
Long, who is also an adjunct professor at Gonzaga,
was direct with the group.
"We got you here," he said. "We want to keep you in
Spokane. How do we do that?"
Immediately the students raised their hands. Long
took questions and suggestions for about an hour
and still didn’t exhaust the supply of ideas.
Brittiny Carter, 20, from Billings, Mont., suggested
good-paying jobs might keep her in Spokane.
Friends and contacts have told her she’ll never earn
$60,000 to $75,000 a year unless she moves to a
"We have to create those kinds of opportunities," he
said. "We want you to stay here and make a
Another student said Spokane has no discernible
identity. She said she can talk for 30 minutes about
cities she’s never visited because they have
well-known attractions or identifying markers.
"And now that I’m here in Spokane I still don’t have a
good idea what is here," she admitted.
Long agreed that image is a serious issue for
Student Cathy Knutson said Spokane needs to
promote its strengths.
When she talks with students from other parts of the
country, they always talk about the crime, drugs and
run-down industrial appearance of Spokane, she
Los Angeles, Chicago and New York have the same
problems, but it’s not the first thing people think of in
those cities, she said.
"At least we don’t live in Pullman," said another
student as the room erupted into laughter. Then she
suggested that Spokane market itself as an
entertainment destination for the 14,000 students
who live 90 miles down the road.
Long said he was impressed by the encounter.
"They asked really great questions and they were
really tuned in and willing to take risks.
"You have to challenge the status quo, you have to
think outside the box and think creatively. They
weren’t afraid to say what’s on their mind."
The Hogan program encourages students to find
ways to help the community.
Knutson, for instance, said she’s pondering the
creation of a nonprofit organization that would help
less fortunate children stay involved in sports.
"In general, entrepreneur programs tend to be about
making money," Buller said. "We want students to
think about how they can contribute to the common
Hogan students are encouraged to get involved.
They participated in a Habitat for Humanity project
last year. This year, about a dozen students taught
area grade school kids about business as part of a
Junior Achievement program.
Knutson organized the students and teaches at
Holmes Elementary. During a recent lesson, she
explained how government works and how taxes fund
police, fire fighters and trash collectors.
There’s plenty to be engaged about in the Hogan
program, said sophomore Garrett Poshusta.
"I feel an aura of excitement, an energy at our
meetings that isn’t present in my other classes," said
Poshusta, who is majoring in biochemistry. He chose
Gonzaga because of the Hogan program.
"I’m very excited to be a member of the class that
lays the foundation for what will become a nationally
recognized program in entrepreneurship," Poshusta
said. "I realized this program could lead me to doors
that no other program could."
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