Students coming to Lehigh for their first year have an ever-growing variety of housing options because of several specialized groups called Live Lehigh communities.
Different from standard dormitories, the Live Lehigh communities offer uniquely specified experiences. Housed in Dravo House for the 2014-2015 school year, there are five different Live Lehigh programs from which first-year students can choose, all of which focus on different sets of values. These include the Outdoor Adventure Community; the Intersecting Identities Community, which focuses on multiculturalism; the Live.Learn.Serve. Community, which supports community service efforts; the Global Lehigh community; and The Creative Commons Community.
There are 14 total Live Lehigh communities with interests ranging from religion to environmentalism, but many of these are only available to upperclassmen. While the five listed above are aimed at involving first-year students, one of the more ambitious programs is Creative Commons, which tries to find especially driven students.
Creative Commons has a particular focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, providing an exclusive opportunity for students with an enthusiasm for new ideas to live in a forward-thinking environment. Working in collaboration with the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Creativity, this particular Live Lehigh community has lofty goals, encouraging its residents to experiment with start-ups and small businesses.
Citing companies like Facebook and Napster as testimonies to what college students can accomplish when they think outside the box, Creative Commons is dedicated to supplying students with necessary resources and connections. However, Lisa Getzler-Linn, co-executive director of the Baker Institute and adviser of the Creative Commons community, emphasized the program is about more than just business.
“Students who recognize their ability to think creatively and innovatively will be more successful at everything they do,” Getzler-Linn said. “Entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation are the keys to success, whether applied to invention, science, the arts, starting a new business, non-profit organization or Live Lehigh community.”
The Baker Institute is an organization of entrepreneurs and professors within Lehigh with a variety of different backgrounds and specialties. Its primary function is to provide Lehigh students, faculty and alumni with the connections and skills they need to launch both businesses and non-profit organizations. The institute runs classes for undergraduate students, as well as Lehigh’s nationally acclaimed Executive Certification and MBA Program, VENTURESeries.
While the Baker Institute’s myriad of services is available to anyone in the Lehigh community, the 13 residents in the Creative Commons community will be groomed as entrepreneurs and innovators from their first year on campus, living and working with students with similar aspirations.
The Baker Institute says that, with its help, “Lehigh students have the opportunity to start a business venture or non-profit organization while still in the supportive environment of the university. Lehigh entrepreneurs will be well equipped to create both innovative solutions and sustainable value.”
The Baker Institute has already conducted several meetings with students in Creative Commons, seeking to introduce them to more advanced creative problem-solving skills while simultaneously encouraging free thought and invention. Getzler-Linn, Dr. Michael Lehman and Baker Creativity Professor of Practice Marc deVinck are the primary advisers, along with the help of coordinator Jodie Johnson.
The students in the Creative Commons community are brainstorming a campus-wide creativity challenge for the spring semester, as well as reviving the Create Club. Additionally, the residents meet with their Gryphon, Cory Spranger, every week to discuss entrepreneurship through TED Talks, blogs and discussion groups.
Getzler-Linn also said that she would like to see an upper-class equivalent of Creative Commons appear sometime in the future, a comment which was echoed by Julian Copeland, ’15, a business and finance major.
“I think it’s a great idea to get people thinking like this early on,” Copeland said. “A lot of students have good business ideas but don’t know what to do with them, including plenty of upperclassmen.”
Accordingly, Creative Commons is designed to give students the opportunity to develop, as well as protect, their own ideas throughout their Lehigh careers. It is, however, an exclusive and advanced community that requires its members to be committed and focused to its values. This year, over two dozen students applied to the community, 13 of whom were admitted. It is clear that competitiveness is intrinsic to the program’s success.
“To be honest, I think it sounds great for some people, but I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed it,” Joe Prestifilippo, ’15, said.” Dorm life can be complicated enough without the added stress of competition.”
Each of the Live Lehigh communities has something very different to offer, but Creative Commons seems especially unique in its universality. While it is designed to amplify Lehigh’s already advanced entrepreneurial atmosphere, it also attempts to include any and every academic subject that might interest its residents, from engineering to the arts. It is the residence hall for the modern age, placing committed students in a committed environment where innovation is both encouraged and rewarded.