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A Legacy of Entrepreneurial Thinking

P.R. Cleary, age 25

When Cleary University was founded by P.R. Cleary in 1883, it was an entrepreneurial endeavor from the start – to create a business college that would welcome students seeking to advance their careers and build a solid future.

That entrepreneurial legacy has continued to this day, nearly 150 years later! We have innovated, pivoted, and reinvented ourselves many times over when we saw opportunity and need in the community and around the world.

Cleary University has a history of thinking outside the box of traditional Higher Education. Our first two students were women back in 1883, which was certainly revolutionary for the time!!

When we developed The Cleary Mind Business Arts curriculum several years ago, it was with this same entrepreneurial discovery and questioning. We asked, what would serve today’s students to become tomorrow’s business leaders? How can we anticipate what will be needed in 5, 10, even 20 years, and prepare students today to be ready and equipped to meet those conditions later on?

Some colleges and universities stay in the tried-and-true track of a classical education available only for the most elite audiences. But they are hard-pressed today to stay relevant to a constantly changing demographic and economy.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

When the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by surprise, Cleary was well-positioned to manage the extenuating circumstances. We have spent years developing streamlined processes and curricula that are powerful whether delivered in person or online. Our students felt connected throughout the pandemic, and we are grateful that we could meet their needs even when times got a little tough.

While the first known use of the word entrepreneur took place in 1762, it was in the early 20th century that the word came to mean “go-getter” in a business setting. The word comes from Old French roots, the word entreprendre, which means to undertake.

We consider this word in the context of Cleary University to mean daring to think differently, bravely taking risks, and trying new things as a way to innovate and meet market needs. Many entrepreneurs sit on our Board of Trustees, daring leaders who bravely thought there might be another way to go about business, bringing value and opportunity to communities and individuals.

And it is this kind of thinking that we aim to impress upon our students at every level – be they traditional undergraduates living in our residence halls and playing on any of our 20 varsity teams or adult students returning to school while working or raising families to advance their education and their careers.

When you are not tied to one vision of how things can be, anything becomes possible. That’s the Cleary opportunity – a legacy gifted to us by P.R. Cleary and carried down through the decades to continue to evolve our impact today and far into the future.