WFU entrepreneurship programs garner national acclaim
August 22, 2007
Fortune Small Business magazine has recognized Wake Forest University’s entrepreneurship programs for being among the best in the nation.
In “America’s Best Colleges for Entrepreneurs,” published in the September issue and posted online at money.cnn.com, Wake Forest joins a group of 24 colleges rated best for cross-campus entrepreneurship education and the 26 best graduate business schools for “blending real-world small-business know-how with top academics.” This marks the first time the magazine has compiled the list.
"We are delighted that Wake Forest’s exceptional learning environment for liberal arts and entrepreneurial thinking has been recognized,”Wake Forest Provost Jill Tiefenthaler remarked. “We offer innovative academic programs that encourage our students to link knowledge and experience, to assess resources and opportunities, and to initiate change and generate value — essential capabilities for the 21st century entrepreneur.
About 5 percent of Wake Forest’s undergraduate students during the past academic year enrolled in one or more entrepreneurship courses. And over the past four years, 75 undergraduate faculty members from 24 departments have participated in the entrepreneurship program.
“Our goal is to weave entrepreneurship into the fabric of the university and to make entrepreneurship an integral part of the culture,” explained Elizabeth Gatewood, director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Liberal Arts. “The distinguishing feature of our entrepreneurship program is that it allows students to pursue a rigorous liberal arts or business education and pursue an education in entrepreneurship that can be tailored to their specific interest or area of academic study.”
That approach is best exemplified by the entrepreneurship program’s motto “any student, any discipline, anytime.” Fortune Small Business writers appreciated the "cross-pollination” this interdisciplinary approach affords students, whether their primary pursuits are in the arts, humanities or sciences.
At the Babcock Graduate School of Management, where more than a third of full-time students are members of the Babcock Entrepreneurs Club, more than 90 percent of the school’s full-time students take an entrepreneurship elective and 70 percent take two or more. The school’s emphasis on entrepreneurship is the second most popular reason students cite for enrolling, said Stan Mandel, director of the Angell Center for Entrepreneurship.
"We practice entrepreneurship in the design and delivery of our programs,” Mandel said. “We are making the curriculum richer and more relevant for our students by concentrating on diversity in the classroom and providing exciting experiences outside it where students can pursue interests about which they are passionate.”
Innovative courses accommodate students studying law, medicine, accounting and post-doctoral arts and sciences, while internships create practical opportunities that range from social entrepreneurship to regenerative medicine.
The staff at Fortune Small Business developed the listings, which are not ranked numerically, by conducting in-depth interviews over seven months with hundreds of entrepreneurs, professors, students, alumni, university administrators and venture capitalists.
According to the nonprofit Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, nearly 3,000 schools today offer classes in entrepreneurship, a tenfold increase since the mid-1980s. A $2 million multi-year grant from the Kauffman Foundation has helped support entrepreneurship programs at Wake Forest since 2003.