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Innovation Center Becomes Reality with Support of Alumni Brad and Mandy Brown

Jul 12, 2022
by Brian Thompson, ʻ95

Of all the changes happening at Flagler College, one of the most unique will be the addition of an innovation center that promises to be much more than just a place for expensive technology and 3D printers.

Artist rendition of the new Innovation Center. Students sitting at tables and working on omputers

While tech will be part of Flagler’s Bradley J. and Mandy Crupi Brown Innovation Center when it launches later this year, the main focus will be on building innovative ideas through collaboration across campus, and even the community.

Planned for the first floor of the Ringhaver Student Center where the campus bookstore used to be, Flagler’s center is being designed to foster a multi-disciplinary approach as students, faculty, alumni and others collaborate on projects and develop solutions to the most pressing problems and challenges.

Dr. Allison Roberts
Dr. Allison Roberts

“One of the great things about the Brown Innovation Center is that we will bring together students majoring in art, graphic design, business, marketing, environmental science, etc.,” said Dr. Allison Roberts, Associate Professor of Business Administration and director of the center (photo at right). “We want students to bring their unique expertise and perspectives to this space because that's how I think the real problem-solving happens.”

The facility will be dedicated to innovation and entrepreneurship, and Roberts envisions a space where community partners, business people and alumni can interact with students and faculty on projects.

Flagler is beginning construction on the center this summer, and expects it to open in fall 2022.

The center’s strong focus on collaboration is something that attracted alumni Brad and Mandy Brown, who provided the lead gift to make the space’s creation a reality.

“This is a great way to leverage that existing culture of engagement and learning,” said Brad Brown, who along with his wife, is a 1988 alumnus of the College. He also serves on the College’s Board of Trustees. “To have this inclusive environment that can facilitate the ideation and collaboration across the disciplines is a real advantage.”

Brown, who earned his bachelor's degrees in business administration and accounting from Flagler and is corporate treasurer of Ally Financial, said these types of experiences have so much real-world applicability and are in high demand. Mandy Crupi Brown, who graduated with English and business degrees from Flagler, said this approach has always been a strength for the College.

“This is really taking it to the next level of what already is a very strong entrepreneurial spirit that has always existed at Flagler,” she said. “Flagler College has always been a step closer to the real world.”

She said faculty like Joyce Libby and Andrew Dillon inspired them to go on to successful careers, and she sees that spirit living on today with a new generation of Flagler faculty.

The center will not only be for students to work on business plans, products, and prototypes, but also a space for programming that will teach about entrepreneurship. There are plans to bring in guest speakers, community members and others with expertise in entrepreneurial pursuits. This will help students learn not just about creating a product, but also how to effectively launch a business and the many facets involved.

The space will also house Enactus, a student group that focuses on entrepreneurial action and has won three national championships. The center will include an area for collaboration and design with tables and chairs that allow group work or classroom-style activities. Connected to the main room will be a maker-space, which will house 3D printers, a laser cutter and other stateof-the-art equipment. This room is where the students can take their theoretical design and produce tangible models, bringing their ideas to life.

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