Peter Rachor, director of Entrepreneurship and of the university’s nationally awarded Entrepreneur Scholars program, will leave the University of Portland after this academic year. Rachor has accepted the Hynds Entrepreneurship Fellowship at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.
The five-year fellowship will mirror some of his work at UP. During the first year, he will teach courses, but his primary focus will be working with 10 to 15 faculty members from various disciplines each year to help them design courses that are more entrepreneurial, experiential and innovative. This work will involve helping faculty and students develop ideas, create prototypes and use the University of Auckland’s Unleash Space, similar to UP’s Makerspace.
“We want to move away from ‘come in, stare at the chalkboard, come back in two weeks and take a quiz’ and instead move toward a more experiential, innovative way of teaching,” Rachor said. “It’s a way cool job.”
He also said that he is working with Provost Tom Greene and the Dean of the Pamplin School of Business Robin Anderson to hire someone to take over his role at UP before the fall.
In his 10 years at UP, Rachor has taught classes on entrepreneurship and innovation, social entrepreneurship, and management and innovation in biomedical engineering, but teaching the Entrepreneur Scholars (E-Scholars) program has been his main focus. He explained that all of these courses have had at their core developing new ventures, products and approaches.
The E-Scholars program was started 20 years ago by then professor Anderson, and under Rachor’s leadership has undergone curriculum changes, such as implementing design thinking and getting students in the field talking to professionals.
Rachor also explained that two spaces on campus, the Innovation Lab in Franz and the Makerspace in Shiley, were two student-led projects that he helped facilitate. Several UP students participated in Stanford’s University Innovation Fellows Program, designed to help students identify how to improve entrepreneurship and innovation on their own campuses, and returned with the ideas for these additions to campus. Rachor recalls these as some of his most memorable moments at UP.
“That’s one of the things I’m most proud of — the amount of student engagement in our entrepreneurship and innovation initiatives on campus,” Rachor said. “And the other is some of the things students have been able to accomplish by participating in these programs.”
He noted that many of his students have gone on to start their own businesses or work in innovation at companies such as Nike or Amazon. Rachor said that he has also appreciated the number of alumni who return to The Bluff to serve as mentors for the E-Scholars program and that he regularly keeps in touch with about half of his former students. He attended three weddings of former students last summer, recently went to a baby shower for another and will celebrate one of his current student’s acceptance into graduate school by taking him out to dinner later this week.
“My favorite memories are the times spent with current and former students and celebrating their success and getting them involved in the success of our current students,” Rachor said.
His plan for his last few weeks in Portland? Make sure he visits all his favorite restaurants in Portland and wineries in the Willamette Valley. His house is sold, and he hasn’t been cooking at all because he’s been going to dinner every night with friends, many of whom are former students.
Though he said he is grateful for his time at UP, he’s eager to teach and work in a different part of the world.
“Being at the University of Portland has just been an incredible experience. We have just awesome students, and I’ve been very lucky to see the things that they do,” Rachor said. “I’ll definitely miss that, but of course, there are fantastic young people everywhere, so I’m looking forward to working with a different set of young people to do some of the things I’ve done here.”