Ratcliffe Foundation names ESI professor CEO


Christian Richey

Former entrepreneurship professor and chair of the Entrepreneurial Studies Institute Carlene Cassidy retires to become CEO of the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation.

Christian Richey, Editor-in-Chief

The chair of the Entrepreneurial Studies Institute retired in January after approximately 20 years at AACC and became the CEO of the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation.

The foundation, which donates millions of dollars to colleges, hired business management entrepreneurship professor Carlene Cassidy following the death of its co-founders, Philip, who died in 2009, and Carole, who passed in 2018.

The foundation’s first donation was to AACC in 2003.

“I knew [the Ratcliffes] professionally, but I also came to be friends with them,” Cassidy said. “This is probably the only opportunity that I ever would leave AACC to pursue.”

Cassidy said she came to AACC as an adjunct, teaching BPA-111: Business and Its Environment, and then joined the full-time faculty in 2002.

“One day I just woke up and thought about what was the best part of my week and it was my class,” Cassidy said. “So after spending the better part of 20 years in corporate America doing a lot of different things … I knew that there was something different for me to do.”

In 2003 Cassidy started the Entrepreneurial Studies Institute, which created classes for student entrepreneurs, and the Hatchery, an incubator for small businesses.

“I was asked to start the Entrepreneurial Studies Institute, which I initially declined because I didn’t know how to say or spell entrepreneur,” Cassidy said. “What inspired me [to accept] was just meeting with students who either had a business and wanted to grow it or they wanted to start a business.”

Professor Stephanie Goldenberg, who became interim chair of the Entrepreneurial Studies Institute on Jan. 16, said Cassidy inspires those she works with and looks to help students succeed.

“When she walks into a room people flock to her; they want to talk to her,” Goldenberg said. “She has energy and enthusiasm and she just really wants to see the best in everyone. … Whatever she does it’s to make you better, to inspire you to be better.”

Cassidy said she will miss watching her students grow.

“You get a front-row seat to growth and transformation and that’s just amazing,” Cassidy said. “I’ll miss that.”

Cassidy co-authored three textbooks during her tenure at AACC, including “Supervision,” “Management” and “Administrative Management.”

AACC business professors still assign “Administrative Management” in their classes.

Cassidy said she believes in lifelong learning.

“You’re never too old to learn something new, and you’re never too old to dream,” Cassidy said.

Second-year early childhood development student Michael Bottega said he appreciates Cassidy’s work.

“She’s done so much for this scholarship program,” Bottega said.

Seventh-year business management student Dalton Leonard said Cassidy has greatly motivated him.

“Professor Cassidy is one of the most authentic people I know, and for me personally she is the fire beneath my feet,” Leonard said.