Fairfield University School of Business receives grant to establish Entrepreneurship Center


The Fairfield University School of Business has been awarded a grant from the Coleman Foundation, Inc., to establish an Entrepreneurship Center that will serve area business people as well as undergraduate and graduate students. Fairfield was one of 33 schools nationwide selected for the 1999 Entrepreneurship Awareness and Education Grants, the only one in Connecticut and one of only two in New England, along with Brown University in Providence, R.I.

Dr. Walter Ryba, dean of the School of Business, and John J. Franco, chairman of TEC, an International Organization of CEOs, will be co-directors of the Center which will join a growing number of accredited Schools of Business that are responding to a increased interest in entrepreneurship studies. "We are seeing a shift in career goals among our students and alumni," noted Dr. Ryba. "The allure of starting their own businesses is being fueled by the growing number of young entrepreneurs around the country whose successes are often accelerated by their understanding and use of technology."

In addition to expanding the undergraduate and graduate curriculum over the next three years, the Center will introduce a continuing education series to serve self-employed small business owners in the State through weekend and evening workshops. With the Coleman Foundation's $24, 900 grant and the support of the University, the Center plans to offer small emerging companies the resources to grow profitability, continue their professional development, access students who can serve as interns and learn the special needs and challenges of running a family business.

John Franco, who has conducted workshops on the topics of building customer loyalty and sustaining competitive advantage with senior executives throughout the world, will play a key role in designing the Center's programs. Mr. Franco was formerly with Learning International which he joined in 1972 as a product manager. After holding a variety of positions, he was named President in 1983. Under his leadership the company doubled its revenues and expanded its business to 28 countries in Europe, North and South America, and the Pacific Rim.

The Coleman Foundation was established in 1951 by Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Stetson Coleman, whose desire was to make the community aware of opportunities which could improve the quality of life. The Colemans were entrepreneurs with varied holdings, including Fannie May Candies. As the Foundation matured in the early 1980s, the Directors expanded the original mission beyond entrepreneurship awareness education and today the Coleman Foundation also funds cancer research, care and treatment, housing and education for the handicapped, and a wide range of other educational programs.

Adding their support to the establishment of the Entrepreneur Center are Paul S. Timpanelli, president and CEO of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, and John M. Capozzi, president of JMC Industries, Inc. Mr. Timpanelli said the Center will serve a critical need in the Greater Bridgeport Region. "The need for varied training opportunities to service the self-employed and marketplace in today's economy is critical."

Mr. Capozzi, who has successfully started 23 different companies, said the Center will provide the county and state with a wonderful service and noted that "Fairfield University has a history of reaching out to the community with a variety of educational services that have assisted the small business owner in the past."

Most recently, the School of Business established a Center for International Market Studies in 1992, which has evolved into the Center for Global Competitiveness. The Center has helped small and medium industries, impacted by reduced defense contracts, find new commercial outlets, often in foreign markets.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on July 1, 1999

Vol. 32, No. 11