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Marshall launches new Innovation Catalyst program

Marshall University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (iCenter) has announced the Marshall University Innovation Catalyst program (MUIC program), a first-of-its-kind program in higher education aimed at training the educational community in design thinking, an iterative, collaborative approach to creating innovative solutions.

Design thinking is at the forefront of the most in-demand skills and has produced some of the greatest innovations in this generation, according to iCenter officials.  From educational applications such as those that have been pioneered at Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute for Design to innovations in public and private institutions, design thinking infuses the mindset and techniques to solve complex problems in agile, elegant ways. Design thinking will allow student leaders, faculty and staff to implement these techniques across Marshall, catalyzing innovations to advance Marshall For All, Marshall Forever’s strategic priorities of improving student achievement, affordability, and flexibility.

The MUIC program is modeled after the Innovation Catalyst program at Intuit, a leading financial technology firm that is widely recognized as one of the most advanced institutions in design thinking. MU’s Innovation Catalyst trainees will learn Intuit’s special version of design thinking known as Design for Delight (D4D).

“At Intuit, every employee is trained in D4D,” said Marshall University President Brad D. Smith, who served for 11 years as CEO of Intuit. “The goal is to democratize innovation and empower every team member to innovate and improve. In an empowered, shared governance environment similar to what we practice at Marshall University, I am convinced it will be a game changer as we navigate and lead in the ever-changing higher education landscape.”

iCenter Executive Director Dr. Ben Eng said the objective with the MUIC program is to help Marshall become the most agile institution in higher education in terms of responding to students’ changing needs.

“Our goal is to have at least one Innovation Catalyst driving student-centered innovation in each academic and administrative unit on campus in three years’ time. We believe that if we empower Marshall faculty, staff and student leaders with design thinking skills, then they’ll be able to combine it with their own unique subject matter expertise to transform their areas for students,” Eng said.

The MUIC program also has separate training for university and departmental leadership known as the Marshall University Innovation Strategist (MUIS), which informs administrators about the MUIC program and how to strategically create a culture of continuous, student-centered innovation in their units.

“Ever since the launch of the iCenter in 2017, with inspiration from Brad Smith and the leadership of Ben Eng, we have created a distrinctive footprint in diffusing design thinking,” said Dr. Avinandan “Avi” Mukherjee, former dean of the Lewis College of Business,  who is currently serving as Marshall’s provost and senior vice president of academic affairs. “As we embark on this exciting journey with this new inititive, we are not just launching a new program. We’re igniting a culture of innovation that will empower our students to be pioneers of change and architects of their own education and future.”

Those who train to be Innovation Catalysts will receive approved time from their supervisors to work on student-centered innovations for their units; training materials and resources; and the ability to apply for funding to continue experimentation and launch of promising ideas. Successful completers of the Innovation Catalyst training program will receive a micro-credential badge certifying them as an “Innovation Catalyst.”

For more information about the Marshall University Innovation Catalyst program, please complete the form on  or contact the iCenter’s assistant director, Paige Leonard, at