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The Beacom School of Business at the University of South

Dakota has added three successful entrepreneurs to its

Entrepreneurs–in–Residence (EIR) program to accelerate

the growth of entrepreneurial ventures in the state of

South Dakota.

Rich Naser, Brian Gramm and Tom Stengrim have joined

last year’s entrepreneurs–in–residence, Ben Hanten and Sue

Lancaster, in providing one–on–one mentorship to student


“We are excited to expand our network of brilliant

mentors and to leverage their experience and knowledge,”

Venky Venkatachalam, Ph.D., dean of the Beacom School of

Business, said of the EIR program started in 2014 to facilitate

and foster student–based entrepreneurship in the state. “As

we continue to build our team of experts, we believe their

backgrounds in helping and connecting startups to resources

within the state will be a tremendous asset to our students.”

These top entrepreneurs, and future EIRs, will be

available for one–on–one mentoring and/or speaking

engagements to classes and student organizations. They

are available to provide insight and guidance to USD

students and faculty as they develop products and services

with an economic impact for Vermillion, the region and

South Dakota.

“Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a strategic focus

area for both the Beacom School of Business and USD,”

Venky explained. “The EIR program’s goal is to connect

the USD community of students and faculty across various

disciplines with industry executives, serial entrepreneurs, and

the investing community to provide experiential learning

opportunities for students while enhancing the Vermillion

and South Dakota economies.”

Venky added that the primary expected outcome

is development of South Dakota’s “Next Generation


In addition to the new EIR program, a new Innovation

Lab equipped with the latest 3D equipment helps student to

quickly and inexpensively develop prototypes for their ideas.

The Innovation Lab equipment includes three Ultimaker

2 and MakerBot model 3D printers; a MakerBot Digitizer

3D scanner; computer; and computer–aided design (CAD)

software by SolidWorks.

“The lab provides experiential learning opportunities to

students in various aspects of entrepreneurship, including

rapid prototyping, market research and new venture

creation,” said Venky. That will allow them to do market

feasibility studies and business planning in a shorter time

frame, he said.

Beacom Training

Next–Generation Entrepreneurs

The University of South Dakota’s Beacom School of Business

continuously receives recognition for its outstanding education,

and two of its online programs have again been ranked among

the best in both national and global ratings.

U.S. News & World


ranked the Beacom School of Business as tied at No.

41 of the 91 Best Online Graduate Business Programs, which

excludes Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs –

but the report also placed USD as tied for 52nd out of the 163

Best Online MBA Programs.

The MBA program is ranked No. 16 on the “Top 25

Online MBA Programs” by the

Princeton Review

, a leading

test preparation, tutoring and college admission services

company. Results are based on academics, selectivity, faculty,

career outcomes, tech platforms and thousands of student and

administrator ratings.

In addition, the online MBA program was awarded the 28th

seat on Quacquarelli Symonds’ list of the top 30 distance online

programs throughout the globe. Results were based on factors

that included high scores, in–class experience, student quality,

GMAT scores, faculty/student ratios and the Beacom School of

Business’ Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

(AACSB) accreditation.

Mandie Weinandt, coordinator of the MBA program since

January 2015, has helped improve the flexibility of online

courses and added collaborations with local businesses to classes,

giving students more real–world experience.

“When I speak with our students, they rave about the classes

we offer, which are relevant to their work and life experiences,”

she said. “Most of all, our students find their interaction with

our exceptional faculty to be one of the best parts of their

Gr a du a t e P r o g r ams S e e Con s i s t e n t