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The Encompass Distinction

 The Encompass Distinction banner illustration


Students earning The Encompass Distinction will build on a liberal arts tradition to develop the core qualities of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking, pursuing the education, opportunities and support they need to become the new generation of innovators.

Inspiring Student Entrepreneurship

If you love the idea of inventing the future, are willing to work hard to make the world a better place and aspire to work for yourself someday, then The Encompass Distinction is designed for you. This exciting program will give you a competitive edge by helping you hone your innovative thinking and entrepreneurial skillset, while teaching you the basics of managing your own enterprise.

The Encompass Distinction represents a unique combination of courses, off-campus learning experiences and mentorship. The program is open to all rising sophomores, in any major or minor, who are interested in turning their passion to purpose.

Whether you want to design the next big smart phone app or launch a new socially responsible business like Ben & Jerry’s, Toms Shoes or Burt’s Bees, or be an innovative force within an existing organization, this is the program for you.

Through a combination of courses, hands-on workshops, field trips, public showcases and other experiential opportunities, you will move from understanding basic business concepts to putting those skills to work in the development and understanding of how to manage your own innovative enterprise. Most of The Encompass courses have McDaniel Plan tags, enabling you to weave the program into your general education requirements.

The Encompass Distinction is made possible with the generous support of Dennis Sisco ’68 & Alexine Lesko through the The Sisco Fund for Enterprise Management.

Josh Ambrose, Director

Dr. Julie Routzahn, Faculty Innovation Fellow

General information


The signature 1-credit “Innovator’s Compass” courses will be the only courses reserved exclusively for students in the program. To receive The Encompass Distinction, students must complete the following (20 credits total):

  • Take 4 credits focusing on the subject matter of business and/or entrepreneurship:
    • BUA 1143: So You Want to Start Your Own Biz?
    • BUA 1101: Principles of Accounting (BUA majors course)
    • BUA 2211 Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management
    • BUA 2214: Principles of Management
    • BUA 1165: Introduction to Accounting and Finance for Business Owners
  • Take an additional 12 credits of Encompass-designated classes or experiences from across the curriculum. Here are the current classes set to receive this designation:
    • Two credits worth of related high-impact experiential learning in a for-profit or nonprofit environment.
    • BIO 1117: Topics in Biology: The Sick Molecule
    • BIO 1117: Topics in Biology: Animals as Machines: Biomimetics and Bio-Inspired Design
    • ENC 1200: You Are What You Eat
    • ENC 3100: Innovation at Work
    • ENG 3312: Writing for Nonprofit Organizations
    • IDS 1132: The Forest Online: Entrepreneurial Storytelling and the Intersection of Conservation and Development on Peru’s Amazon Frontier
    • HON 2265: Food on the Table
    • IDS 3365: Innovation at Work
    • PSI 3365: Innovative Approaches to Ameliorating Inequality, Conflict and Poverty
    • Encompass-Enriched Experience: the faculty innovation fellow may be petitioned to authorize up to four credits of a non Encompass-designated course to meet this requirement.
    • 4 additional credits from the BUA courses listed above
  • Take four credits within the Innovator’s Compass Series (1 credit each)
    • The Innovator’s Compass series includes courses such as: “The Basics of Innovation,” “The Lean Start Up,” “Systems Thinking,” “Community Think Tank,” “Social Entrepreneurship,” “Failing Forward” “Showcasing your Strengths: Career Focus Module,” and “Enterprise Management.”

Experiential Learning

The Encompass Distinction Connections
The Encompass Distinction Connections is an event series designed to help the campus and community engage in new ways with innovation and entrepreneurship in our region.

The Innovation Challenge
This competition is open to all students, regardless of their enrollment in the The Encompass Distinction program. Students will compete each spring for the best business or social innovation plans.

The Encompass Distinction Student Workshop Series
This series will feature regional entrepreneurs and local experts in the area of creativity and innovation and will support student submissions in the Innovation Challenge.

Internship Experiences with Local Entrepreneurs
Through McDaniel’s partnership with the Carroll Innovation Center at Overton, students earning The Encompass Distinction will have the opportunity to gain first-hand experience working with local entrepreneurs and start-up businesses.

CEO Support
CEO staff members will play a key role in assisting students with securing internships and providing a broad base of career development support throughout the program.


President’s Advisory Council
The President’s Advisory Council (PAC) is an alumni group chosen by the president. Membership is selected based on strong evidence of successful innovation and business acumen. Their contributions will include some combination of the following: invited lectures; individual student mentorship; internship, externship and job shadow opportunities; serving as judges for final stages of the Innovation Challenge; and, pro-bono support for Innovation Challenge winners to move their projects forward.

The entrepreneur-in-residence is a local entrepreneur who provides valuable feedback and mentorship to students in The Encompass Distinction program as well as to the general population of students enrolling in the Innovation Challenge.

The Faculty Innovation Fellow
The faculty member in this position serves as the advisor to the students in The Encompass Distinction program, runs the one-credit Innovator’s Compass experiences, and provides ongoing professional development for faculty in the program.