The University of Texas at Austin
Academic Level
Issue Area(s)
Key Personnel
The University of Texas at Austin
1 University Station, CMA 7.118
Austin, TX 78712
United States

Founded in 1997 by Dr. Richard Cherwitz in the Office of Graduate Studies, the University of Texas' Intellectual Entrepreneurship Consortium (IE), now part of the Division of Diversity & Community Engagement (DDCE), offers a distinctive vision of education attractive to minorities as well as a unique methodology for expanding the minority graduate applicant pool and improving undergraduate education for all students. The IE Pre- Grad Internship is offered for academic credit, and student participants work closely with graduate student mentors and faculty supervisors to create internship experiences aimed at exploring, anthropologically and from the ground up, their chosen fields of study. Participants learn about the unique aspects of graduate study that distinguish it from the undergraduate experience (e.g., conducting research, writing for scholarly audiences, participating in seminars, serving as teaching and research assistants, publishing articles in professional journals, becoming members of scholarly organizations and learned societies, preparing for an academic or professional career, etc.). Further, while many of the IE graduate-level professional development initiatives begun by Cherwitz continue to operate, since 2003 IE has evolved into an inter-collegial Consortium.


IE's mission is to educate "citizen-scholars"—individuals who utilize their intellectual capital to leverage social good. 72% of IE participants are first generation, underrepresented or economically disadvantaged students. Over 70% are women. The philosophy of IE shows promise as an approach to increasing the number of persons of color who attend graduate school. The value of IE as a mechanism for increasing diversity inheres in its capacity to allow students to become entrepreneurs--to discover otherwise unobserved connections between academe and personal and professional commitments. IE changes the metaphor and model of education from one of "apprenticeship-certification-entitlement" to "discovery-ownership-accountability."


The Pre-Graduate School Internship has been successful in bringing a new population into the graduate school pipeline. The IE program has:

  • Enrolled nearly 3,000 students since 1997
  • Nearly 70% of the students are first generation, economically disadvantaged, or underrepresented minorities
  • Over half of those enrolled in the IE program since it began in 2003 have gone on to graduate school at some of the nation's top institutions (in over 40 separate disciplines): MIT, Harvard, Yale, Penn, Michigan, Wisconsin, Berkeley, Columbia, Stanford, Virginia, NYU, Texas, and Illinois
  • IE has won national acclaim—including recognition by: Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Fast Company Magazine, the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), Fortune Magazine, Excelencia in Education, and the New England Resource Center for Higher Education
  • The IE program has also been endorsed by dozens of university presidents and chancellors.

In 2014 IE director Cherwitz received the National Diversity Council's DiversityFIRST(tm) Leadership Award for the impact IE has had on increasing diversity in higher education. To learn more, videos and narratives can be viewed at: