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Jim Corman loves students. He loves their enthusiasm, curiosity and energy. He also has a passion for entrepreneurship. “It’s the engine that has been driving this economy for 30 years and driving innovation in the United States,” he said.
At the Harbert College of Business, Corman has the opportunity to mix his passion for entrepreneurship with his passion for educating students. It’s no wonder the 11-year part-time instructor was honored with Auburn University’s SGA Teaching Award for a second time (2015).
“You’d think that once we get to a point where we are in our careers and have a little bit of age on us that students’ opinions wouldn’t matter a whole lot – but this means the world to me,” he said. “I love hanging out with students. I think old folks are boring.”
Corman is founder and managing partner of Angel Investment Management (AIM), an Auburn-based group that has helped dozens of startups take flight.
Why teach? Besides getting the opportunity to share his insight with students, Corman sees his role at Harbert as a means to give back.
“Any entrepreneur that’s had reasonable success over his or her career – you realize that the success is a result of a whole lot of people involved in your life,” said Corman, who graduated from Auburn in 1974 with a degree in finance. “You need people to teach you. You need people to mentor you. You need people to invest in you. I have been blessed throughout my career to have so many people come alongside and provide me with instruction, encouragement and discipline – and teaching here is my opportunity to return some of that grace that I have received in my career.”
Corman regularly teaches three classes: essentials of entrepreneurship, which serves as an introductory course on entrepreneurship and family business; new venture creation; and managing entrepreneurial startups.
“In 4140 (the introductory course) I’m trying to give them a good, solid foundation so that they are prepared to excel in the advanced courses later in the curriculum,” he said. “My other goal is to have them so excited about entrepreneurship by the end of the course that they are bouncing off the walls or so scared that entrepreneurship is the last thing they will ever do.”
“In the advanced courses, we’re not teaching principles or vocabulary. We’re getting them ready to go out and do this – maybe not start their company right away, but at least by able to go out and function effectively in an early-stage startup environment.”
Aside from teaching duties, Corman often plays an integral part in the Harbert College’s Tiger Cage student business pitch competition, serving as a mentor throughout the process for prospective teams and even as a judge.