Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship

The Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship is an entrepreneurship education resource that provides classes, coaching and assistance to entrepreneurs. It builds relationships among and between CSB/SJU students, faculty, alumnae/i, and community members to create and strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit.

As The Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship at CSB/SJU continues to celebrate our 10th anniversary, we are proud to mark a decade of impressive success and launch a fundraising drive to fully endow the Center. If you are interested in more information about the Center and/or our fundraising efforts, please contact Center Director, Pat Maxwell, at or if you would like to donate online- click the links below:



We are now accepting applications for the 2016-2018 Entrepreneur Scholars Program!

An information session on everything Entrepreneur Scholar, will take place on Wednesday, December 2nd from 4:00-5:00pm in the Presidents Dinning Room, Gorecki, CSB, and on Wednesday, January 20th from 4:00-5:00pm in Simons 340, SJU. You can also stop by the Center for Entrepreneurship Mon-Thursday to ask questions or grab an application for the program. Applications are due by February 2nd, 2016!

For more information on the Entrepreneur Scholars program, or to get an application - CLICK HERE


2015 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards was a huge success!

CSB Entrepreneur of the Year: 
Janet Dryer '83, CEO, HelpSystems
SJU Entrepreneur of the Year: 
Rick Bauerly '91, Founder and Managing Partner/CEO, Granite Equity
CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year:
Krista Carroll '00, SJU '78, Co-Founder & CEO, Latitude

Click here to watch the videos for our 2015 winners!


The McNeely Center would like to welcome the following students to the 2015-2017 Entrepreneur Scholars Program. Congratulations!

  • Garrett Ackerman
  • Jake Anderson
  • Sarah Beck
  • Roman Derevyanko
  • Alec Dewitz
  • Claudiea Eisenhuth
  • Kenny Green
  • Sam LaBine
  • Hannah Lynch
  • Brady Riesgraf
  • Antoine Taylor
  • Mary Triggs
  • Maxwell Kuzara

Executive in Residence

The Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship will host its fourth Executive-in-Residence. The goal of the program is to build on the success of our current alumni mentoring program and deepen the opportunity for student connection through more frequent and informal access to seasoned and accomplished leaders dedicated to sharing their experience and expertise.

Chris Thiel

 Chris Thiel is currently a Commercial Loan Officer with American Heritage National Bank in St. Cloud, MN. In 2001, he received a Management Degree from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN. During his professional career, he has gained valuable experience in three main disciplines: Project Management, Sales, and Finance. Chris began his career in the new home construction industry. He started out as a Construction Manager Assistant and was promoted several times to Senior Project Manager when the recession devastated the industry. The skills that were gained during this period were planning, problem solving, and results management.   

Ready for a new challenge, Chris began selling commercial and residential building products and services during one of the worst construction slowdowns in history. Face to face sales is an eye-opening experience that he is glad to have undertaken. During this four year stretch, Chris gained valuable practice in sales, marketing, and strategic partnerships. In the next phase, Chris ventured into the Business Banking profession. As a business lender, he is able to have daily interactions with proprietors while gaining valuable insight into financial and entrepreneurial planning. Every day is unique and thrilling when advising clients through the obstacles and successes of business ownership. 

On a personal note, Chris lives on Lake Pulaski in Buffalo, MN with his wife and three year old son. He has spent many winters coaching Bantam A hockey with stops in Andover, Maple Grove, and Elk River. Chris spends his free time with family and friends, wakeboarding, boating, fishing, playing hockey, or working on a home remodeling project.

Social Entrepreneurs and future nonprofit leaders assisted by the Center

The mission of the Donald McNeely Center includes reaching those with entrepreneurial visions to address social and community issues. The Center provides individual advice and coaching to students and community leaders. Read more about this work.

Donald McNeely, Inspirational Founder, 1914-2009

Donald McNeely, aged 94, passed away March 9th, 2009. He was the inspirational founder of the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship and a frequent advisor for staff and students. He will be greatly missed.

Current Events

Alums in Brewing Event

Friday, November 20th
Brother Willie's Pub, SJU
4:00-5:00     Starting a Brewery Panel Discussion
5:00-6:00     Sampling and Social Hour

Alum Guest Speakers & Brewery Founders:

-Dan Schwarz '97 CEO of Lift Bridge Brewery
-John Klick '92 President of Excelsior Brewing
-David Hartley '01 Founder of Spilled Grain Brewery
-Josh Hart '01 Founder of Spilled Grain Brewery


Entrepreneurial Leadership Series Luncheons

Next event is January 21st, featuring keynote speaker Dan McKeown. One month before the event, you will be able to click HERE to register for that event. Check back in December!  

Watch for an email from the Center for Entrepreneurship about upcoming speakers and events!

Note: Starting in March 2015, the cost for the luncheons will be $35 per seat, and parking will no longer be coverd by the Center. The Minnapolis Club will charge a flat rate of $7.00 per car. The Club accepts cash or check. The luncheon registration will be here on our website.  To make sure you are on our electronic invite list, or questions on registration, please email Kelli Gradin at


Eric Rego Big Idea Competition

Remembering Eric Rego, Entrepreneur Scholar first cohort. Eric graduated from St. John's in 2006 and was part of the first group of Entrepreneurial Scholars. Eric passed away in December 2008 and will be missed by everyone who knew him. In Eric's honor, we host an elevator pitch competition every year. Students give 90 second business idea pitches to win cash prizes! Eric's mother, father and sister are judges for this event, along with 2 gentlemen from the company he worked for and a fellow E-1.

Entreprenuership Lessons

People who start a business often say it's what they learned after everything they learned in school that makes the difference between the success or failure of their company. What the Center does is reverse that comment by ensuring what students learn and experience while in college is what makes them successful in the future.

Program News

Contact Us

Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship
College of Saint Benedict
Saint John's University
350 Simons Hall
Collegeville, MN 56321

Pat Maxwell, Director
(320) 363-2373

Kelli Gradin, coordinator
(320) 363-2065

Center for Entrepreneurship
Student Employee
(320) 363-2764