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Highlighting the Research and Expertise of College of Charleston Professors

Professor Patrick Harwood
Department of Communication


Professor John Clarkin
Management and Entrepreneurship

Raul Carillo Professor John Clarkin
(pictured with trophies won by his students who compete nationally in Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) competitions--see additional photo at end of this article)

Living the Dream
By Rachel Martin

"As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

This statement by South Africa's legendary leader Nelson Mandela has helped guide John Clarkin in his teaching career and personal life. Dr. Clarkin is a man who brings passion and dedication to his work which creates a presence that carries over to his students.

Clarkin is director of The Tate Center for Entrepreneurship and is an assistant professor of entrepreneurship in the School of Business and Economics.

Growing up in western Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh, education beyond high school was not much of an option for Clarkin, he says. He left his home at a young age and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Clarkin would serve his nation for six years during the Vietnam War era.

After his time in the Navy, Clarkin went to the University of Wisconsin where he earned his undergraduate degree. Next he came down South to The Citadel where he earned an M.B.A.

He then worked for several years in the small business consulting field. While at the Citadel, he says he was influenced by one professor who helped him realize his future might be in teaching. Inspired about this career direction, Clarkin would complete his Ph. D at the age of 52 from the University of Stirling in Scotland.

Clarkin came back to Charleston in 1994 and was here for the opening of the Tate Center of Entrepreneurship. He kept a close eye on the entrepreneurship program to see if there were going to be any opportunities.

"The Tate Center was supposed to lead the way for entrepreneurship in South Carolina since it was the only center like it at any school, so I watched it closely. They seemed to have trouble getting it up and running," Clarkin says.

He would realize, after being hired to join the faculty and direct the Tate Center that this would be what he needed to fulfill his professional dream.

During his years at the College, Clarkin has contributed to the start up and development of multiple programs, and has helped to reach out to the community to get local businesses involved with the entrepreneurship program.

He is currently developing courses for the new entrepreneurship concentration at the College, and is actively involved in the college's chapter of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) program. SIFE is a global organization that focuses on students teaching others the concepts of free enterprise and doing projects that give back to the community. Under Clarkin's guidance the SIFE chapter at the College of Charleston is working on a number of projects including one that will build computer labs at three schools in Africa.

"I believe that there is an ethical way to practice business and still be socially responsible," Clarkin says. Projects like SIFE are a way for students to learn this concept, he says.

Another one of his main goals is to help get students linked to the business community and to help create more employment opportunities for graduating students in the Charleston area.

"A problem that is occurring in the Charleston area is that we have very talented students who are graduating or graduated from the College of Charleston and are forced to work jobs waiting tables or take positions that under-employ them," he says. "We are trying to work with local businesses to help create more jobs that allow College of Charleston students to stay in the area and allow our businesses to benefit by keeping the talent here."

Clarkin is also heavily involved in the YES Carolina project. This project trains teachers from schools across South Carolina, and helps get entrepreneurship education started at a young age.

YES Carolina was modeled after a program called NFTE (the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship), which was started in the Bronx. Clarkin says that the secret that was found from the NFTE project was that children in poverty make great entrepreneurs because they are forced to think on their toes because of the environment in which they live.

Clarkin, and others affiliated with YESCarolina, have had great success training teachers who can then teach business concepts in ways that young people can understand.

Clarkin believes strongly that learning is a lifelong process. He knows that it is easy for students to see a professor as a source of knowledge who will just force feed them information. He says he tries to take this into consideration in his teaching style.

His students describe him as engaging, honest, effective, relatable, and knowledgeable. "He will absolutely interrupt his schedule for new and rare opportunities for students to learn," one student said.

Another student said, "Dr. Clarkin is a great ambassador for the College of Charleston. He always has a unique class and I will definitely be taking another one of his courses."

Others mentioned how he uses his real world experience to give examples and make material more understandable.

A piece of advice that Dr. Clarkin would like his students to take away from his courses is that luck is when opportunity meets preparedness. You must be able to recognize a good opportunity and be prepared to seize it.

"Entrepreneurs get told no more than yes, but no doesn't mean no; it simply means not now," Clarkin says.

And that's advice you can take to the bank!


School President George Benson is pictured with members of the College's award-winning Student in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team