By establishing the Center, Graceland University seeks to perpetuate the spirit of free enterprise in students, faculty and community. The study of America's entrepreneurial tradition enhances and strengthens our economy by encouraging innovation and by familiarizing young people with a knowledge of the principles and history of free enterprise. That body of economic values, purposes, concepts, processes and structures which constitutes the American system of free enterprise has allowed our society to deploy its resources, both physical and human, to achieve a high standard of quality of life for most Americans. Although it is not perfect, our economic system is inextricably interwoven with the individual freedoms which Americans cherish. Of primary importance is the belief that enduring political and economic freedom rests on the expectation of society for ethical and compassionate economic behavior.
The focused study of free enterprise and entrepreneurship is appropriately located in a small, private university with its emphasis on the dignity of the individual. To educate young people to understand the history and principles of free enterprise and to evaluate business opportunities is to provide a basis not only for the future economic success of the individual student but also for the economic success of our world.
Graceland University's Enactus Program
Founded in 1975, SIFE, or Students in Free Enterprise, (known as Enactus since 2012) is a nonprofit organization that gives students the tools to learn the free enterprise system in a real working situation. Enactus challenges students on more than 1,800 college campuses worldwide to take what they’re learning in the classroom and use their knowledge to better the world.
EnActUs stands for: EN is for Entrepreneurial; Act is for Action; and Us is to represent all of us working towards the common good. Our Graceland Enactus entrepreneurs are indeed in action for the greater good. Our name change has not altered our mission, our Criterion or our goals. In fact, the name is changing to come more in line with what our focus is supposed to be.
The Enactus Criterion remains the same as the SIFE Criterion.
Considering the relevant economic, social and environmental factors, which Enactus team most effectively empowered people in need by applying business and economic concepts and an entrepreneurial approach to improve their quality of life and standard of living?
The GU SIFE (Enactus) team, founded in 1989, has brought about positive transformation both in the community and in the students that work in those communities. This year, students have spent over 5,000 hours on projects such as organizing a Winter Farmer’s Market, creating an Energy Savers program for low income food pantry participants and assisting several local entrepreneurs with business consulting. GU Enactus' international work this year included helping community members with Income Generating Activities (IGA’s) in Zambia with HealthEd Connect, and partnering with Outreach International to facilitate the Land Ownership Viable Enterprise or L.O.V.E project with communities in the Philippines.
In May 2006, Graceland SIFE was named the SIFE U.S. National Champion. The team then competed in Paris, France, with teams from 44 other countries at the SIFE World Cup. There, they finished second to a great team from China. On April 16, 2012, Graceland SIFE was named a Regional Champion for the 12th consecutive year at the competition in Chicago. They competed at the SIFE National Exposition in Kansas City, Missouri on May 22 – 24, 2012, and placed in the top eight teams in the United States.
Justin Akers, M.S. Director, Sandage Center for the Study of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship
Justin Akers has served as the Director of the Sandage Center for the Study of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at Graceland University since 2009, and is the faculty advisor for the Graceland University Enactus (formerly Students in Free Enterprise or SIFE) Team. Justin also serves as an Assistant Professor of Business Administration in the C.H. Sandage School of Business at Graceland, and teaches courses in Agricultural Business as well as Free Market Practicum. He holds degrees from Iowa State University in Agricultural Education (M.S., 2008) and Agricultural Business (B.S., 1997). Justin’s expertise is in experiential learning, and he finds that the Graceland University Enactus program is uniquely positioned to provide students with valuable learning and professional networking opportunities while also helping people in need to increase their quality of life and standard of living through Enactus projects. Prior to entering the education field, Justin was employed as a professional farm manager, as well as a real estate and insurance salesperson. Justin is also an entrepreneur. He and his wife operate their own farm business, and raise crops and livestock on their South Central Iowa farm.
Jeff McElroy, M.B.A. - Assistant Professor and Associate Director of the Sandage Center for the Study of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship
McElroy grew up in Lamoni, graduated from Graceland University with a double major in Business Administration & Economics and earned an MBA from Drake University. He has worked in the business world for several years as a manager for The Maytag Company, Dexter and Pella Corporation in the Marketing/Customer Service and Training areas. In 2008, Jeff returned to Graceland as an Assistant Professor of Business Administration for the C.H. Sandage School of Business to incorporate his "real world" experiences into the classroom in marketing, entrepreneurship and operations courses.