Strong student interest and job trends lead Fairfield University's Charles F. Dolan School of Business to offer an entrepreneurship concentration



Image: EntrepreneursWhen Fairfield University faculty learned that an increasing number of Dolan School of Business students harbored ambitions to become entrepreneurs, they saw a terrific opportunity.

With the dean's support, members of the Management Department developed a new concentration in entrepreneurism, one that offers students courses exploring such issues as technology ventures and managing family businesses.

Key factors in the marketplace made this move a wise idea.

Entrepreneurial firms now make up a significant and growing part of the American economy and are the primary generators of new job creation. Moreover, entrepreneurs historically play a crucial role in the innovations that lead to technological change and productivity growth. On top of that, recessions are a fertile time for start-ups.

Donald E. Gibson, Ph.D., professor of Management, said the Dolan School's  entrepreneurship concentration was developed as a proactive response to not only job trends in the United States but also to an intense interest among Fairfield students. "A substantial proportion of students have come from entrepreneurial families and express interest in pursuing an entrepreneurial career themselves," said Dr. Gibson, who is chair of the Management Department.

According to statistics provided by Fairfield University's Institutional Research Department, 5.8% of the Class of 2011 selected "business owner or proprietor" as their probable career, which represents an increase over prior years, and 41.6% of the Class of 2010 indicated that "Becoming successful in a business of my own" is an "essential" or "very important" objective for them.

The University also found a "strong correlation between the proportion of students in the freshman class who intend to become business owners and the proportion of business owners among their fathers." In recent years, an increasing number of Fairfield students have noted that their fathers are business owners or proprietors.

Norm Solomon, Ph.D., dean of the Dolan School, said Fairfield student demand on both the undergraduate and graduate levels is driving the increase in entrepreneurship-related courses. "Entrepreneurship studies are a very important part of business curriculum. Entrepreneurs tend to be visionaries who thrive on thinking outside the box. Having these passionate innovators and self-starters in Dolan School classrooms plants the seed for dynamic exchanges of ideas."

Fairfield students' interest in entrepreneurship is mirrored by national trends. A 2000 study by Ernst & Young noted that as many as 5.6 million Americans younger than age 34 were actively trying to start their own businesses. One-third of new entrepreneurs were younger than age 30, more than 60 percent of 18-to 29-year-olds said they wanted to own their own businesses, and nearly 80 percent of would-be entrepreneurs in the United States were between the ages of 18 and 34.

"We are excited to respond to this demand by offering a series of classes to help students understand the process of entrepreneurship, what entrepreneurs do, and how they can take their innovative ideas and possibly pursue those ideas through a viable business plan," Dr. Gibson said.  

To add a different dimension to the entrepreneurism concentration, the Dolan School welcomed to the faculty Mukesh Sud, Ph.D., a successful entrepreneur from India. Among the courses he teaches are 'Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management' and 'Social Entrepreneurship.' Given the definition of 'social entrepreneurs,' as those "who intentionally pursue the public good," the course clearly fits within the Dolan School's Jesuit mission for social justice and is one of Dr. Sud's research areas. The course examines the tremendous opportunities that exist for creating value in the social sector. The objective is to sensitize students to avenues that firms can take to influence societal outcomes while continuing to be revenue generating, self-sustaining enterprises.

For more information about other courses and programs at the AACSB-accredited Dolan School of Business, visit www.fairfield.edu/dsb or call (203) 254-4070.

Image: Dolan School of Business forum featuring entrepreneurs.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 8, 2010

Vol. 42, No. 73