Center for Entrepreneurship

Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship welcomes new director

by Stephen Briggs

Suzanne Bergmeister - 2021

SUMMARY: The Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship (GCFE) is honored to welcome Suzanne Bergmeister as its next executive director.

Pictured (above): New director for the Gilliam Center, Suzanne Bergmeister

The Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship (GCFE) is honored to welcome Suzanne Bergmeister as its next executive director.

An entrepreneur with backgrounds in both venture capital and the military, Bergmeister served as the full-time entrepreneur-in-residence at the University of Louisville’s Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship for the past 15 years, and concurrently as assistant director for the past four years.

At Louisville Bergmeister taught courses at both the graduate and undergraduate level, and mentored MBA competition teams that won over $1 million in competition prize money and two global championships. Her successful track record and hard work within the university and in the broader entrepreneurial community earned her the University of Louisville graduate teaching award twice as well as the Enterprise Corp Entrepreneurial Leadership Award.

“I am very excited to work with the amazing team at the GCFE and the College of Business to build on the momentum and success they’ve already achieved,” said Bergmeister. “I’m really looking forward to leading the GCFE to increase entrepreneurship across the JMU campus and throughout the region.”

“We are thrilled that Suzanne was tapped to lead the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship at JMU,” said College of Business Dean Michael Busing. “Her prior experience with University of Louisville’s Forcht Center, especially with securing grant funding and mentoring students, veterans and lower-income entrepreneurs, will serve JMU and support economic growth in the region. Her deep understanding of both the entrepreneur and venture capitalist is critical as the center evolves and achieves national recognition for excellence.” 

Bergmeister is excited to begin work with JMU and the College of Business. “When I was doing my due diligence, I spoke to many JMU alumni, and every single one of them absolutely loved their JMU experience. Several even called it magical. That meant a lot to me, and I knew I wanted to be a part of that.”

She also sees challenges ahead, and opportunities for success. “I believe it is critical that our next generation has an entrepreneurial mindset, meaning the ability to use innovation and creativity to solve problems,” said Bergmeister. “The pandemic proved the huge advantage of agility and being able to pivot quickly when necessary. Yes, the past year has been rough, but I believe that the hallmark of any successful entrepreneur is flexibility.”

The GCFE promotes entrepreneurship on and off campus to empower individuals and transform lives. Housed in the College of Business, the Center supports interdisciplinary programs within colleges and multidisciplinary collaborations across campus through active participation, marketing support, academic and entrepreneurial networks, and grant funding. 

In fall 2018, the JMU Center for Entrepreneurship was named in honor of leader and philanthropist Leslie Flanary Gilliam (’82) following the largest gift in JMU’s history at the time. Bergmeister joins the GCFE during an exciting period, as it begins to plan for and welcome students back into its home in the newly built College of Business Learning Complex.

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Published: Monday, June 28, 2021

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 6, 2021

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