Fordham University’s College of Business Administration (CBA) has launched an undergraduate entrepreneurship concentration that will allow students to develop detailed plans for starting their own businesses and will focus on sustainable development.
The specialization began in the spring semester with an introductory course, “Money and the Meaning of Life,” and four more classes will be rolled out over the next year to fill out the curriculum.
Donna Rapaccioli, Ph.D., dean of the College of Business Administration, said developing the entrepreneurship concentration has been a major undertaking for the business school, and believes that the emphasis on teaching students how to develop profitable businesses that will help society and the environment will make it unique.
“It’s important for our students to realize that they can be financially successful and at the same time maintain the values that they believe in,” Rapaccioli said. “I think, unfortunately, in our culture these goals seem at times to be mutually exclusive. The courses in entrepreneurship will address that directly.
“We can’t train our students to be leaders for today, we have to train them to be the leaders of tomorrow, and if they’re not aware of innovative ways to use our resources they simply aren’t going to be,” she said. “Essentially, we’re taking the Jesuit mission and making it active through this program.”
Entrepreneurship is a relatively new field in academe. It began in MBA programs and courses have migrated to the undergraduate level over the years. According to the Kauffman Foundation, there are now more than 2,000 business colleges and universities offering at least a course in entrepreneurship, and some have established a full sequence leading to a minor or a master’s degree.
Fordham’s Graduate School of Business Administration (GBA) offers a sequence of courses in entrepreneurship as part of its MBA program. GBA is also home of the Bert Twaalfhoven Center for Entrepreneurship, which encourages the development of family businesses and social entrepreneurship and gives future entrepreneurs the skills to start their own businesses.
The growth in entrepreneurship courses and programs has spawned a number of competitions at both the undergraduate and MBA levels in which students present their ideas to venture capitalists and the winning teams can receive in excess of $100,000 and other support to launch their businesses.
Sharon Livesey, J.D., associate professor of communication and media management, has spearheaded the development of the CBA curriculum with other members of the business faculty. She said the concentration will be interdisciplinary in nature, encompassing everything from communication and management to marketing, accounting and finance.
“In MBA programs, students tend to be very technically oriented and technically trained and can become disconnected from their own personal values,” Livesey said. “The goal of the undergraduate program is to show students that they can both learn the technical skill and realize their values in their work.”
As part of the effort to establish a strong presence for entrepreneurship at the undergraduate level, Kate McKeown, adjunct professor of marketing, has been appointed as Fordham’s Entrepreneurship Fellow and will serve as a resource for undergraduates interested in entrepreneurship. McKeown, who has taught entrepreneurship courses at GBA for 10 years, will also advise the fledgling Entrepreneur Club and work with other students who aspire to start their own businesses.
Fordham is an ideal place for an undergraduate concentration in entrepreneurship, McKeown said, because New York City offers resources unlike any other location in the country and the University attracts a number of first- and second-generation students who have seen their parents start small businesses.
She said that the curriculum is structured in such a way that at the end of the four-course sequence students will have more fully developed their ideas for startups and gained the confidence and skills required for entrepreneurial success. She and Livesey hope that students will eventually be able to start businesses on campus.
Rapaccioli said that CBA is planning various events as part of an “Entrepreneurship Week” to be held later this spring on the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses, in an effort to reach out to undergraduates who might have an interest in taking the courses or enrolling in the concentration.
By Victor M. Inzunza