ATHENS, Ohio (Sept. 10, 2012)—First-year students in the Fritz. J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology at Ohio University were welcomed to the college Sept. 6 with a talk on integrity and entrepreneurship by Ohio University alumnus David Scholl, now a partner with Athenian Venture Partners.
Scholl, who received his Ph.D. in zoology and biomedical sciences in 1981, addressed a crowd of about 200 first-year students along with current students and faculty who were there to check in on how freshman year is going.
Scholl asked the crowd to reflect on the question “Why am I here and what am I doing?” He said students must constantly ask themselves these thoughts while in college.
Gavin Whitehead, a freshman aviation major who attended, said he learned the importance of being connected to the university from Scholl.
“There are a lot of opportunities you can have,” he said. “This is a special university. A lot of people have made it far.”
Scholl had shared that he was personally attracted to Ohio University’s small town atmosphere and the large opportunity outcome.
Large outcomes indeed arose for him: In 1983, Scholl became director of research for Athens-based Diagnostic Hybrids, Inc. (DHI) – then a four-person, fledgling biotechnology company. It grew from a four-person start-up to an Inc. 500 company under his leadership as president and CEO before being acquired by Quidel Corporation in 2010 for $130 million.
Scholl told students that individual exploring, technical risk, persistence, integrity and trust were important factors to DHI’s success.
“Innovation and entrepreneurship are driving tremendous commerce, enterprise and value creation. A lot of that happens at college campuses, and a lot of that happens because bright students are thinking of new ways to solve problems,” he noted. “Don’t be afraid of opportunity but instead embrace it and seek out faculty and fellow students that encourage the notion you are onto something significant, and just go do it. Outside your comfort zone is where you tend to discover the most about so much, and most importantly about yourself,” Scholl advised.
Paige Preske, a freshman mechanical engineering major, shared the advice she was taking away from the talk.
“Tonight showed me there are a lot of other students who are going through the same things and showed me the upperclassmen that are able to help,” she said. “Just go for what you want and don’t go back.”
Scholl said he also wanted students to understand the importance of integrity. He said it should be applied not only to one’s science, but when dealing with oneself, community and investors.
“Without integrity and trust in your daily relationships and applications on campus, what do you have?” he asked.
Preske took it to heart.
“He showed me that there are a lot of opportunities to start your own business and become successful -- not just in engineering, but life in general,” she said.