the teacher, mentor, advisor
It is difficult to do justice to Barrett Hazeltine’s contributions to the teaching of entrepreneurship at Brown University. His 50 years of teaching, numerous awards, and huge alumni following attest to his success in first, creating entrepreneurship as a field at Brown, and second, sowing the seeds for the creation of the C. V. Starr Program in Business, Entrepreneurship and Organizations.
“If part of entrepreneurial success is maintaining passion and commitment, then Prof. Hazeltine is a living example. He runs up and down the aisles."
--Amy Nye Wolf, founder of altiTUNES, as quoted in Fastcompany.com/magazine, Issue 27
Barrett Hazeltine teaches as an emeritus professor. Two of his courses, known as ENGN 9 and 90, are legendary. They cover entrepreneurship topics with a case-based approach and include former students as guest lecturers who offer real-life perspectives. His teaching style is energetic, inclusive, and inspiring.
“Prof. Hazeltine is so knowledgeable about the subject that his lectures are unwaveringly effective. He always encourages class participation, motivates students to contribute and creates a very interactive environment, as he gladly answered every questions asked during class and gives his famous handshakes to students who participate.”
--Brown University, the Critical Review, Fall 2009
Prof. Hazeltine’s newest courses, in social entrepreneurship and appropriate technologies, reflect his longstanding interest in Africa. In his own words,
The interesting engineering problems in Africa have always been a pull factor for me and I have dedicated myself to finding out how local people can be empowered so that they can solve their own engineering problems…the application of appropriate technologies is the only way that this can be made possible, so that people on the African continent can move away from the dependency paradigm.
Barrett Hazeltine mentors students by working with them as teaching assistants, reviewing drafts of their projects, supporting their organizations and clubs, attending their numerous activities outside the classroom, and keeping in touch with them after they leave Brown. He does all of this all of the time, with a big heart. When asked about his hopes for his students, Barrett notes that he wants them to become mentors as well. His own description of what mentoring entails reveals his humanity:
I hope young entrepreneurs—successful or not—will encourage the next set of entrepreneurs. Not all can give advice or funds, but all can spend a few minutes listening and offering some kind and helpful words. An appropriate mixture of praise and realism is needed. The confidence of young entrepreneurs is often fragile, even if hidden by bravado; an advisor should not damage that confidence. I hope senior people will also pass on to others a need to consider the implications of what is being proposed—will it make people kinder and more generous? Will it protect the environment? And so on.
--www.BrownHEN.org, July 16, 2007 Interview
Barrett Hazeltine advises his students to “just do it”. It sounds simple, but there is a philosophy and a method to it. He explains his advice in a recent article written for Brown’s Social Innovation Initiative.
Barrett Hazeltine has been recognized in many ways. He received the senior class award for excellence in teaching so often that, in 1985, the award was named after him.
Thanks to his inspiring teaching and alumni following, Brown University created the C. V. Starr Program in Business, Entrepreneurship and Organizations. As part of the program, alumni endowed a chaired professorship. In May 2008, Angus Kingon became the first Barrett Hazeltine University Professor of Entrepreneurship and Organizational Studies. When the professorship was inaugurated, Brown produced a video tribute to Barrett.
On the occasion of his 75th birthday, as many as 150 former students wrote in a book of tributes.
In 2007, a group of former students created BrownHEN, an on-line community and platform for fellow Brown Hazeltine alumni to share their ideas and expertise.
This year marks Barrett’s 50 years of teaching. One of the largest and most visible student groups on campus, the Brown Entrepreneurship Program, dedicated its Forum to Professor Hazeltine to honor his role in fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship on Brown's campus.