Entrepreneur Jan Ryan hired as director of new program in College of Fine Arts

Emily O'Toole

Fine arts students with a passion for creativity but a fear of financial instability are not being neglected. Jan Ryan, a strategic advisor and entrepreneur, has recently been hired as the director of creative entrepreneurship and innovation in the College of Fine Arts.

Ryan said she came to UT to create a program for students called Pathways to Entrepreneurship, which will teach students in the College of Fine Arts how to market their talents. In a Q&A with the School of Design and Creative Technologies, Ryan said she plans to bring in entrepreneurial mentors and introduce a set of core values, including branding and networking, while moving away from the view of entrepreneurs as just tech guys. 

“Our vision is clear at the College of Fine Arts — it’s about college to career,” Ryan said in an email. “That means understanding the needs of their audience and customers. (Students need) to be real world problem solvers, to collaborate within teams and (to) be equipped to shape their own careers in this fast-changing economy. These are the skills they will carry with them throughout their lives to enable them to be successful in multiple roles.”

Doreen Lorenzo, assistant dean of the School of Design and Creative Technologies, said administration is developing a curriculum that will be available to all COFA students, and workshops will start next spring.

“The rate of change that occurs forces all businesses to become entrepreneurial, not just for people starting their own business,” Lorenzo said in an email. “We want to make sure our students are prepared. The creative economy is fast growing and our students should be leading the way.”

Lorenzo said participation in the program is not mandatory, but students have shown enthusiasm for it.

“So far we have only seen interest and excitement from the students about the opportunity to learn more about this,” Lorenzo said in an email.

Dance freshman Katherine Cornell, who hopes to double major in business, said she thinks an understanding of business will help her pursue a career in dance performance in terms of financial management, networking and communication skills.

“There is some degree of uncertainty with pursing only a fine arts degree, but UT makes sure to train us … to handle the challenges of becoming a professional,” Cornell said in an email. “Dance is my passion, and I can’t imagine my life without it.”