DePaul University’s Coleman Entrepreneurship Center began the new year with a new executive director -- Terri Lonier, PhD.

Lonier has a background in both academia and the corporate world. Previously, she was assistant professor and program supervisor of entrepreneurship and strategy in the Arts, Entertainment and Media Management Department at Columbia College Chicago. Before that, Lonier led the strategy consulting firm Working Solo, Inc., which guided Fortune 100 and high-tech firms. Her entrepreneurial startup guide, “Working Solo,” was named “the No. 1 choice for solo entrepreneurs” in an Inc. magazine cover story and “the free agent’s bible” by Fast Company magazine.

Below, Lonier discusses her new job and what she has planned for the center, which was established at DePaul through a Coleman Foundation pledge of $2.5 million in 2003.

What drew you to DePaul?
When I heard about the opportunity to lead the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center, I saw it as a chance to bring together the knowledge of the classroom and the streetwise wisdom of business experience. It enables me to combine my background as an entrepreneur, my academic training and research, and my passion to support the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders.

Entrepreneurship is very popular on college campuses today, and it’s more than a passing fad. Students recognize that to thrive in the 21st century “gig economy,” they need to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset and take charge of their own careers. For some, this may mean self-employment, others may work for entrepreneurial companies, and a few may launch high-growth firms.

In addition to directing the Coleman Center, you will serve as a clinical professor of management. Which classes will you teach at DePaul?
In spring quarter I will teach the graduate class MGT 570: Entrepreneurship and New Venture Management. In that course students will be refining their business ideas and crafting their business plans in preparation to launch their startups. We’ve had some great success stories emerge from that class, and I look forward to guiding students in the entrepreneurial process.

What do you want the DePaul community to know about you?
I’m a Midwesterner—I was born in Ohio—and Chicago is my favorite city in the country. My dad launched his own television sales and service business in the 1950s, so entrepreneurship is in my DNA—it’s a lens through which I see the world. I also think that being an entrepreneur is one the most creative thing you can do with your life. As I tell my students, “As an entrepreneur there’s no detailed playbook that guarantees your success. Every day you ‘make it up’.”

What trends do you expect to see in 2013 for entrepreneurship?

While strong attention remains focused on online startups, I see growing opportunities in businesses that are more traditional in nature. The most interesting startup ideas I see these days are not only the latest app or Web commerce site, but also those that use the Internet as a means to bring people together in person, or to improve the daily lives of people through more traditional product or service businesses. They are more “tech-enabled” companies rather than specifically “tech-focused,” like many dot-com companies.


Read what Crain’s Chicago Business wrote about her job