Notre Dame College Launches First Generation Center with Founder

Notre Dame College is officially launching a mentoring and support program for students who are the first in their families to attend college with a guest lecture from a founder and CEO in the family of companies.

Jeff Hoffman, an accomplished entrepreneur and innovator in the fields of Internet, e- commerce and entertainment who launched his first software company while a college student at Yale University, will speak at noon Friday, September 9, in Regina Auditorium on the Notre Dame campus.

The guest lecture serves as an official launch for the College’s First Generation Center, an initiative designed to provide support to undergraduates who are the first in their families to attend college. Refreshments provided by Romeo's Pizza will be available before and after the presentation for the College community.

Following a successful pilot program, the FirstGen Center will provide intensive support and mentoring for Notre Dame's first-generation students.

“The goal is to help these students make a smooth transition from high school to college so that they will be successful in their academic pursuits,” College President Thomas G. Kruczek said in a statement.

This year, a cohort of about 60 incoming first-year Notre Dame students who are the first in their families to attend college will be organized into eight teams of 8-10 students each. These teams will be led by mentors who have experience in working with first-generation college students and who will use structured group and individual discussions to help guide their teams through the college experience.

In addition, to help provide the students with the tools and training needed to thrive, they will take unique, specialized full-year courses in both their first and second years at Notre Dame, according to Kruczek. As freshmen, the students in this cohort will take “Student Success: An Entrepreneurial Mindset.” As sophomores, they will take, “Student Success: Personal and Professional Leadership.”

The FirstGen Center is scheduled to host a gathering with pizza from Romeo’s at noon each Friday during the school year in Regina Auditorium. In addition to showcasing other guest speakers, the informal meetings will include professional and educational leaders, as well as successful first-generation college graduates and upper-level students, who will be available to mentor and network individually with members of the campus community who are the first in their families to attend college.

As the first lecturer in the series, Hoffman returns to Notre Dame to impart—especially to first-generation college students on campus—the power of developing an entrepreneurial mindset along with a big dream for professional and personal success.

Hoffman has presented twice previously on the College campus, including an address last year as part of the FirstGen Center pilot program.

In addition to leading the development and launch of Priceline’s consumer company, Priceline YardSale, Hoffman is a founder/partner in ColorJar, a venture accelerator firm that helps entrepreneurs and small business owners launch and grow new business ventures. In this capacity, he works as a virtual CEO with startup companies worldwide.

Over the years Hoffman has founded and grown a series of successful startup companies, guiding them to acquisitions and public offerings.

He previously served as the CEO of Enable Holdings Inc., an international leader among excess inventory solutions companies. Enable Holdings, a publicly traded company, operates online sites and and has sold more than $2 billion worth of consumer goods since its launch.

After Priceline, Hoffman was a founding partner, chair and CEO of Black Sky Entertainment, an independent production company in the film and music industries that produced the independent horror film “Cabin Fever,” a $1.4 million project that has grossed over $100 million to date.

He also has produced concerts with Elton John, reality programming with Boyz II Men and promoted numerous other artists.

Hoffman received a Lifetime Achievement Award in Entrepreneurship from the National CEO Council in 2010 and the 2012 Champion of Entrepreneurship Award from JP Morgan Chase, Citibank and Rising Tide Capital. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Entrepreneurs by the international association of college entrepreneurs in 2010.

An accomplished professional and motivational speaker, Hoffman has been a featured business expert on Fox News, Fox Business, CNN, CNN International, Bloomberg News, CNBC, ABC and NPR and in publications including Forbes, Inc., Time, Fast Company and the Wall Street Journal.

Hoffman supports entrepreneurs and small businesses on a worldwide basis, serving on the global advisory boards of Global Entrepreneurship Week (supporting entrepreneurship in over 130 countries), the U.S. State Department’s Global Innovation through Science and Technology program, the APEC Startup Initiative (the Asia Pacific Economic Council’s 21-member nation association) and with many other organizations in the U.S., Europe, South America, Africa and Asia.

He recently co-authored SCALE with David Finkel, a New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. The book focuses on seven “proven” principles to grow a company, a blueprint for scaling a business and building it into a larger success, without sacrificing one’s personal life in the process.

September 2016

About Notre Dame College

For almost a century, Notre Dame College has educated a diverse population in the liberal arts for personal, professional and global responsibility. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the College has grown strategically to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of students and the dramatic changes in higher education. But it has never lost sight of its emphasis on teaching students not only how to make a good living but also how to live a good life.

Today, the College offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master's degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. Notre Dame College offers NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs for men and women and is located in a picturesque residential neighborhood just 25 minutes from the heart of Cleveland. Hallmarks of the Notre Dame experience include stimulating academics, personalized attention of dedicated faculty and staff, and small class sizes.


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