The Emerson Experience in Entrepreneurship, created by the late professor Karl Baehr, helped launch more than 120 student-created ventures since its founding eight years ago.
To honor Baehr and continue to support the popular program, Emerson established the Karl Baehr Memorial Fund in December, according to Donald Hurwitz, associate professor and interim chair of the marketing communication department. The fund was announced formally at Baehr’s Jan. 17 memorial.
Baehr, who died Nov. 13, designed the yearlong, eight-credit entrepreneurship course, also called E3, to help students start their own businesses. He was a marketing professor and senior executive-in-residence as well, but according to Sana Bakshi, a former student of his, teaching E3 was his passion.
“Karl Baehr dedicated his life to this program—if he wasn’t in the classroom he was out raising money for it,” said the senior marketing communication major.
Jeffrey Schoenherr, vice president for development and alumni relations, said he spoke with Baehr’s past students, fellow faculty members, and his family, who unanimously decided that naming a fund after Baehr and obtaining donations to ensure the program continued was the best way to recognize him.
Ten years ago, the college decided to expand its business program and introduce an entrepreneurial studies minor, which became E3 in 2006 under Baehr’s leadership, said Hurwitz.
The college financially supported E3, but Schoenherr said that most of the monetary backing came from Baehr’s fundraising efforts. He said Baehr sought out gifts from individual donors and corporations. According to Hurwitz, funding for E3 went toward salaries for a number of short term guest lecturers, who taught courses a few times a month; the E3 Exposition, the course’s capstone student business competition; and the E3 Exposition’s prize money, which totaled $20,000 annually.
The Exposition’s most recent winner, Jon Allen, a senior marketing communication major, was awarded a total of $10,000— $5,000 in cash, $3,000 worth of legal services from New Leaf Legal, and $2,000 worth in services from Leary & Company Public Relations for his creation “Temple Twist,” an all-natural, bottled Shirley Temple drink.
Matt Lowe, Eric Wahl, and Nadav Swarttz, who all graduated in 2013, won first place at the seventh Annual E3 Exposition for Quiyk Athletic Apparel, a Quidditch clothing company. At the sixth annual competition, Derrick Cheung, who graduated in 2013, placed first for Green Street Vault, a clothing retail business on wheels.
James DiSabatino, a 2006 Emerson graduate, participated in E3 while at Emerson, and in 2011 started the food truck Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, featured on Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race.
According to the college’s website, 30 percent of E3 students’ businesses are launched. The national average for similar programs is four percent, according to the Princeton Review.
In 2007, Fortune Magazine recognized Baehr as among the Top Professors of Entrepreneurship in the country.
According to Hurwitz, the fund is imperative to upholding E3 and keeping Baehr’s effort and spirit alive. While Emerson is dedicated to arts and communication, he said, a number of students have found success in business and nonprofit pursuits, and there’s a growing interest in entrepreneurial studies at the college.
“Karl was especially skilled at understanding how to tailor a business and entrepreneurial studies program for the Emerson College type of student—the kind of students Emerson has are not run of the mill,” Hurwitz said. “It’s important to have this available.”
Emerson is collecting donations for the Karl Baehr Memorial Fund in multiple ways. There were pledge cards at the memorial and the reception, which were held in the Cutler Majestic Theatre and Bill Bordy Theatre respectively, for attendees to donate to the fund. A mailing will be sent out to Emerson alumni who participated in E3 to alert them of the fund and encourage them to contribute, said Schoenherr. The college’s website also has an online donation box.
Daniel Haber, a senior marketing communication major who participated in E3 in 2013, said Baehr gave the program the reputation it has today.
“Karl really lived and breathed E3,” said Haber. “He would be touched and thrilled to have the fund set up in his name.”