The Entrepreneurship Program began in the 1990’s with a concentration in Small Business available in the Business Studies major in the Bryan School of Business & Economics. About ten years later, the word Entrepreneurship was added to the Small Business concentration to make the Entrepreneurship/Small Business concentration. This doubled the number of students taking the concentration. At that point, it was realized that there was a pent up demand for Entrepreneurship courses.
In 2008, Dr. Dianne H.B. Welsh was hired as the first chair holder in Entrepreneurship, the Hayes Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship. Under the direction of Dean James K. Weeks, Dr. Welsh first charge was to assess the current offerings available in Entrepreneurship. These included a course that had been developed prior to the BELL Committee, BUS 470 Small Business Management, housed in the Bryan School of Business & Economics, as well as nine courses developed under the BELL Committee. These included five courses in the Bryan School of Business & Economics and four courses in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. None of these courses were cross-listed, but included some form of entrepreneurship content in their syllabi.
Based on the results of the internal course assessment, an economic evaluation of the needs of the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina, an assessment of the history, background, and resources of UNCG, and her research on career opportunities for the next 20 years, Dr. Welsh created seven areas of study to base the major, two minors-one for non-business and one for business students, and the graduate certificate in Entrepreneurship:
- Creative Industries Entrepreneurship
- Family Business Entrepreneurship
- Healthcare Entrepreneurship
- International Entrepreneurship
- Social Entrepreneurship
- Science, Technology, and Innovation Entrepreneurship
Under these 7 areas or profiles of study, classes are available in a wide-variety of disciplines. Dr. Welsh is the architect of the cross-listed course system, which lists ENT (Entrepreneurship) with the area of study or discipline. For example, ENT/IAR 321 is Entrepreneurship/Interior Design 321 Creativity, Design, and Entrepreneurship. ENT/CRS is Entrepreneurship/Consumer and Retail Studies 421 is Entrepreneurship Practicum in Apparel and Consumer Retailing: Store Operations. Besides the cross-listing feature, what are unique about this Entrepreneurship Program are the blended learning objectives that are carried through projects in the course. Each course that is cross-listed with Entrepreneurship (ENT) has a minimum of two to three learning objectives blended in the course with the discipline so students are learning how to be entrepreneurial within or applied to the particular discipline. This is a much more comprehensive, real life approach that mirrors life after college, as work and professions are blended, not compartmentalized into subject matter.
In the fall of 2008, Dr. Welsh revised the existing minor that was one year old in Entrepreneurship offered in the Bryan School of Business & Economics with the new revised curriculum that included the seven profiles and included both a minor for business students and a minor for non-business students. The minor is 15 credit hours and the revised minor went into effect in fall of 2009. In January 2009, the Graduate Curriculum Committee approved the Entrepreneurship Post-Baccalaureate Certificate (12 credit hours). Due to budget constraints, the certificate was launched in July 2010 and then was put on hold for the 2011-2012 school year. Courses are offered in the certificate throughout campus that can be taken. In May of 2009, the UNC System Board of Governors approved the B.S. in Entrepreneurship consisting of 21 credit hours. At the time, the B.S. in Entrepreneurship was one of three programs out of 300 that had been submitted for approval that had been placed on hold. Working with Dr. Jim Sadler, Leslie Boney, and others, the major in Entrepreneurship was moved to the top of the list due to the critical need in the Piedmont Triad for Entrepreneurship skill development. The B.S. Entrepreneurship was available fall 2009.
Awards and Recognition
To date, the Academic Entrepreneurship Program at UNCG has won three major awards. In 2010, the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers awarded Dr. Dianne Welsh with Award for Exceptional Activities in Entrepreneurship across Disciplines, in 2011 the Small Business Institute® awarded Dr. Welsh the Best Practices Award for Creative Cross-Disciplinary Entrepreneurship. In 2012, the U.S. Association for Small Business & Entrepreneurship awarded the Entrepreneurship Cross-Disciplinary Program with the coveted Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Program in the United States. In addition, Dr. Welsh started the Small Business Institute® and as Director working Project Directors, the Bryan School of Business & Economics have won five Project of the Year Awards for working with small/medium businesses on live feasibility/business plans, specialized plans, and comprehensive plans done by students.
In 2006, the State of North Carolina was offered a grant from the Ewing Kauffman Foundation to instill Entrepreneurship across the curriculum on all campuses in the UNC system, with the exception of UNC Chapel Hill, which had received one of the original Kauffman grants in 2005 along with some other universities across the nation, including Wake Forest University. The Kauffman Foundation grant stipulated matching funds at the state level as well as matching funds to be raised at each of the UNC system campuses. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro was the second state school to raise the required funds, behind North Carolina State University. Unfortunately, UNC System Chancellor Irskine Bowles has just been installed at the end of the legislative session and was unable to raise the required matching funds for the grant at the state level.
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) had already formed a campus-wide committee of interested faculty, led by Vice Chancellor Dr. Rosemary Wander, called Building Entrepreneurial Learning for Life (BELL) to develop the grant for our campus in 2007. When the matching state funds did not come through, BELL decided to use the entrepreneurship funds that had been raised as the matching grant money from our campus to build entrepreneurship across the curriculum internally. The BELL Committee decided not to pursue a Kauffman Foundation grant for our campus alone. The Executive Committee for BELL consisting of Vice-Chancellor Dr. Rosemary Wander, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dr. Timothy Johnston, and Dean of the Bryan School of Business & Economics, Dr. James K. Weeks. In 2008, Dr. Dianne Welsh, Hayes Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship, was added to the BELL Executive Committee. The BELL Committee issued a request for proposals and a number of $5,000 grants were given out to faculty across campus to infuse entrepreneurship in their courses. These included faculty from the Departments of Dance, Theatre, Media Studies, Information Systems and Operations Management, and Business Administration. Other departments also add courses without the grants, including Economics. The Social Entrepreneurship and the Arts Entrepreneurship BELL Committees, under the direction of Dr. Ruth deHoog, then Chair of the Political Science Department, and Dr. John Lee Jellicourse, Dept. of Media Studies, now retired Professor Emeritus, were formed to initiate campus-wide activities in these specific areas of interest. In the two years from 2007-2009, the committees sponsored campus-wide events, including scavenger hunts in social entrepreneurship, keynote speakers, seminars and retreats, and funded special projects. For example, Jennifer Jackley, co-founder of KIVA, spoke in the spring of 2009. In the summer of 2009, BELL Committee and the BELL Executive Board ceased to exist to move on to the next chapter to instill Entrepreneurship as a permanent fixture throughout the university. BELL was successful in planting the beginning seeds of Entrepreneurship across campus.
Management of Entrepreneurship
In the spring of 2009, Dr. Dianne Welsh took the lead in writing a proposal that created a campus-wide entrepreneurship center focusing primarily on community outreach and extra-curricular activities, and she named it the North Carolina Entrepreneurship Center (NCEC). Dr. Welsh was assisted in the proposal to the UNCG Board of Trustees by Drs. Johnston, Weeks and Wander. Despite the BELL Executive Committee misgivings that the Board of Trustees would agree to name the UNCG Entrepreneurship Center the North Carolina Entrepreneurship Center, Dr. Welsh pressed on. Her research showed that no other center had claimed the name in the state. The UNCG Board of Trustees passed the proposal in April 2009 and opened in September 2009 on the fourth floor of the Bryan School of Business in a suite next to the dean’s office. Dr. Dianne Welsh served as the Founding and Inaugural Director from July 1, 2009-July 1, 2011. Dr. Welsh continued with the strategic plan she had written to replace herself as part-time director with a full-time director with the support of the administration in 2011. Mr. Bryan Toney, formerly Director of the Entrepreneurship Center in the business school at Appalachian State University, was hired in by the selection committee consisting of Dr. Welsh, Mr. Jerry McGuire, Dr. James K. Weeks, Ms. Diane Picciuto, and Mr. Tom May as the full-time Director. He began April 1, 2011 to overlap with Dr. Dianne Welsh’s Directorship to enable a smooth transition.
In December-February 2011, Dean James K. Weeks and Dianne Welsh wrote a proposal to form the UNCG Entrepreneurship Cross-Disciplinary Program (ECDP) to oversee the academic Entrepreneurship program across campus. This proposal was accepted by the Dean’s Council in March 2011 and the ECDP was opened in September of 2011 with the support and assistance of Dean McRae Banks, Ph.D. It is currently housed in 328 Bryan School of Business and Economics. Dr. Dianne Welsh was appointed as the first Director by Provost David Perrin. The objectives of the ECDP are to:
- promote teaching and learning through the development, delivery and continuous improvements of cross-disciplinary courses, serving primarily non-business school majors,
- enable all students to gain a greater understanding and fuller appreciation of the role of entrepreneurs in society especially in the sciences, and arts, and
- assist students in acquiring knowledge and developing attitudes necessary for being a successful entrepreneur in their chosen field of study and career.
In collaboration with the North Carolina Entrepreneurship Center (NCEC), the ECDP sponsors visiting scholars, lectures, films and conferences devoted to cross-disciplinary, co-curricular activities.