McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise
Showcase going virtual in 2020
The McNair Entrepreneurship Showcase will be a virtual event from 1 to 4 p.m. on Friday,
Nov. 20. This is your opportunity to network with startups and service providers and
learn from entrepreneurial leaders.
Meet keynote speaker Ashley Bell, former White House policy advisor for entrepreneurship
and hear from Lou Kennedy, CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation.
The McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise promotes scholarly activity,
educates students about the role of free enterprise and entrepreneurship in enhancing
economic growth, and encourages students to contribute and participate through entrepreneurism
in creating a better America.
The Institute is funded through the generosity of The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, which also funds centers at multiple other universities across the nation supporting
entrepreneurship and free enterprise education. Under the guiding vision of Robert
and Janice McNair, the foundation is committed to developing a new generation of entrepreneurial
leaders who have both the technical skills and the philosophical understanding of
how a free enterprise system forms the basis of economic opportunity and prosperity
for individuals in our country.
The McNair Institute offers a range of courses, experiences, and educational resources
to inspire in students an appreciation of how free enterprise and entrepreneurship
serve as a catalyst for economic growth in the Unites States and the world.
The McNair Entrepreneurship Showcase is designed to inspire, invigorate and inform students, business leaders and alumni
about entrepreneurship and innovation in South Carolina. Previous showcases have featured
Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media; Alli Webb, founder and
chief creative officer of Drybar; and Dave Knox, best-selling author of Predicting
the Turn: The High Stakes Game of Business Between Startups and Blue Chips. Save the date for the Fourth Annual Virtual Showcase: Friday, November 20, 2020.
The Entrepreneurship & Innovation Living and Learning Community is open to all majors across the university, giving students a unique perspective
into the inner workings of fields and industries they wouldn’t normally encounter.
In this community, students have the opportunity to learn from faculty, staff and
their peers, collaborating in unexpected ways. Learn More about Entrepreneurship and Innovation >>>
The StartupWind Virtual Entrepreneurship Support Platform provides students and alumni an easy way to build an idea concept, business model
canvas and a comprehensive business plan, with virtual support and coaching from faculty,
staff and volunteer advisors. Start building your idea >>>
The McNair Institute Student Advisory Council advises the McNair Institute on programs and services that can enhance students’
experiences at UofSC and beyond. Students are invited or may express interest in joining
Entrepreneurship courses are available in colleges across the campus. The McNair Institute sponsors COLA 298, “Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise,” an interdisciplinary course in which students learn dynamics of how the free enterprise
system works and how entrepreneurs start, grow and manage innovations and new ventures
Dirk Brown, faculty director
Dirk Brown is the faculty director of the University of South Carolina's McNair Institute
for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise. Dr. Brown is a seasoned executive with a
strong track record of developing, marketing and licensing disruptive, proprietary
technologies. He has written over 30 technical papers and journal articles, holds
over 25 patents, and is an active member in a number of professional societies.
Brown holds an M.B.A. from San Jose State, a Ph.D. (Materials Science) and M.Eng.
(Applied Physics) from Cornell University and a B.Sc. (Engineering) in applied physics/electrical
engineering from Queen's University in Canada.
Kristina Hooks, assistant director, partnerships and events
Kristina Hooks brings a broad range of experience from the business, government, and
nonprofit sectors including work in higher education, auditing, and retail. She holds
an M.B.A. from the University of South Carolina, an M.P.A. from the University of
South Carolina and the College of Charleston, a B.S. (Business Administration) from
the College of Charleston, and a B.A. (Corporate Communication) from the College of
Katherine Swartz Hilton oversees strategic initiatives for the University of South
Carolina McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise. Ms. Swartz Hilton's
expertise is organizational growth strategies, with a career spanning 20 years in
academic and nonprofit executive positions.
She holds a M.A. in Organizational Change and Leadership from Columbia College, a
B.A. in Communications from the University of South Carolina, a number of professional
certificates and credentials, and has been recognized regionally in business and professional
publications. She is an active volunteer and philanthropist.
Coy Gibson, business manager, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Living and Learning
Coy Gibson is from Camden, South Carolina and currently serves as business manager
for the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Learning Community. He manages financial accounts,
vendor relationships, office spaces and supports student-led programs at E&I. He attained
dual master’s degrees in international business and management from the Darla Moore
School of Business and ESCP Europe Business School in Paris, France. He earned his
bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of South Carolina Honors