Statement issued Tuesday:
ANGOLA, Ind. — He acquired three patents and met with remarkable professional success before he was 40 years old. Now, an entrepreneur who could go anywhere in the world and do anything he wants to do, is returning to his alma mater to help future generations bring their ideas to fruition.
Scott Fergusson of Fort Wayne will take the helm as dean of Trine University’s Ketner School of Business beginning July 15. Fergusson attended Trine (then Tri-State) University on scholarships and earned an engineering administration degree in 1992.
“We are very pleased to have Scott join our team at Trine,” said Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., Trine’s president. “He not only brings an enthusiasm for academics, but a passion for creativity, ideas and entrepreneurship. That’s a rare combination, and we are excited to be here as he helps students bring their ideas to life with the help of our expert faculty, top-notch resources and devoted donors, many of whom are stepping up to support the university’s entrepreneurship initiatives.”
After graduation, he went to work for Merrill Lynch as an independent financial advisor. Having the ability to work with people and money, Fergusson’s business quickly grew. He struggled, however, to efficiently manage investment data to meet his growing clientele. In talking with other financial advisors, he learned they had the same difficulties. Knowing how to program, he began creating a software that compiled and organized financial information.
“It was the genesis of me saying, ‘I’m not satisfied with what everyone else is doing,’” Fergusson said. “There was no excuse to sit there and say, ‘Well, I guess there just isn’t anything better.’”
His novel technological work earned him three patents. In 2001, his idea turned into a profitable business, Investigo, which is a Latin word meaning “to track.” The company provided financial services enterprise data consolidation from multiple sources, including clearing houses, custodians and back office systems, into a central repository.
By 2007, Investigo Corp. employed 70 people and had millions in revenue. In July 2008, Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc., in New York, acquired Investigo, and Fergusson became vice president of product management and development. Today, Broadridge still uses Investigo’s architecture and technology for new service offerings.
Realizing how much he benefited from his education at Tri-State, Fergusson began building relationships with administrators. In 2010, he became director of the university’s Technology Commercialization Lab and Rhoads Center for Entrepreneurship. Fergusson’s goals were to provide students with necessary resources to make sure their inventions and ideas stayed alive.
As he moves into his new role as dean, Fergusson plans to work with faculty to incorporate entrepreneurship and problem-solving approaches in the classroom. His vision is to fine-tune the focus of business school and make Trine stand uniquely apart from other institutions.
“We want people to see the Trine difference. Some schools offer more and more programming. The plan is for Trine to have a laser-sharp focus on programs that will enable our students to differentiate themselves and remain competitive in the workplace,” Fergusson said. “We have faculty who not only are experts in their fields, but have some phenomenal professional experiences. They are tremendously committed. They have a vested interest in their students’ success beyond the classroom.”
He wants the classroom to be a training ground for the real world, and he hopes to connect with area companies so that students can gain some valuable experiences. Perhaps, he said, it will entice some to investigate their own ideas, inventions, goals and dreams.
“We have remarkable alumni who have started companies, invented amazing technology, acquired patents, and so much more. Look at my story. Why can’t that happen all the time?” Fergusson said.
“What’s stopping us from taking all the ideas that students have and helping them create something bigger than they ever could have imagined?”
A simple Google search turned up stories about college students who started businesses, some of which now have assets in the billions. Yale students came up with the ideas for FedEx and Time Magazine. Harvard students created Microsoft and Facebook. Google was born at Stanford. Dell was launched out of a college dorm room at the University of Texas, Austin, in 1984.
“Sometimes, when you get people with these great ideas, they drop out. But, how many of us have an electron microscope in the garage or have access to an expert in the field in an office down the hall?” Fergusson said. “It just blows my mind that 30 steps from my door is a Ph.D. who is an expert in aerospace engineering. We need to help students with their ideas, create learning opportunities and give them reasons to want to stay on campus.”
Trine’s administration is looking forward to seeing developments during Fergusson’s first year on the job.
“Learning is at the core of his plans,” said David Finley, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs. “With new initiatives in the Ketner School of Business combined with our nationally recognized engineering programs, students will have the chance to not only learn in the classroom, but be entrepreneurs as well. That’s what we’re about here — creating tomorrow’s leaders.”
Trine University, an internationally recognized, private, co-educational, residential institution, offers associate, baccalaureate, and master degrees in programs to students in engineering, mathematics, science, computer science, business, teacher education, communication, criminal justice, golf management, social sciences, and various other fields of study. Trine is a member of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association and offers 22 varsity sports. Its golf program includes the university-owned 18-hole championship Zollner Golf Course. Founded in 1884 and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (www.ncahigherlearningcommission.org), Trine operates a 400-acre main campus in Angola, Ind., and two other campuses in South Bend and Fort Wayne. Trine also has regional learning centers in Columbus, Howe, Warsaw, Logansport, Merrillville and Indianapolis, as well as the Trine Virtual Campus.