Contact: Melissa DiMotto
WHITEWATER A new bachelor of business administration degree in entrepreneurship was approved Friday for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater by the UW System Board of Regents.
UW-Whitewater becomes the first UW System school outside of UW-Madison to offer an undergraduate entrepreneurship major.
“Wisconsin has an economy that embraces entrepreneurship,” said Lois Smith, interim dean of the College of Business and Economics at UW-Whitewater. “Many of our students come from family business backgrounds. The new major in entrepreneurship will give them the skills and knowledge they need to begin and maintain their own business ventures.”
Graduates will have the abilities and confidence to start successful new business ventures and bring ideas for innovation and growth to existing companies with entrepreneurial thinking that is vital in today’s global economy.
“This is really a market-driven major,” said Debra Malewicki, an assistant professor in the Management Department and coordinator for the entrepreneurship major.
Entrepreneurship is critically important to southeastern Wisconsin and UW-Whitewater wants to encourage its students to think about starting the kinds of businesses that create new jobs, she said.
“We want them to start innovative, not imitative, kinds of businesses that are positioned for growth,” Malewicki said.
The entrepreneurship major will bring together faculty members and courses from business disciplines including marketing, finance and management.
Students will become familiar with issues confronting entrepreneurial and family businesses, learn how to evaluate the viability of business proposals and develop familiarity with management and growth through strategic plans, consulting projects or implementing their own businesses.
Entrepreneurship graduates also will be able to prepare a start-up business plan and will understand the advantages and disadvantages of various forms of financing.
Entrepreneurship is already strong at UW-Whitewater, where an active student chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization won national awards last year. The student group sponsors the popular Warhawk Business Plan Contest each year.
“We think it’s going to be a pretty popular major,” Malewicki said. About 40 students are now pursuing general business degrees with an emphasis in entrepreneurship, and the university expects enrollment to increase as the new major becomes better known.
Formal programs in entrepreneurship have been growing rapidly across the country as new and growing businesses are seen as a boost for job creation and the economy. In Wisconsin, entrepreneurship has been identified as a key component of the UW System’s Growth Agenda and Gov. Jim Doyle’s Grow Wisconsin plan.
UW-Whitewater’s entrepreneurship major has drawn support from regional business and community leaders and will enhance campus collaboration with local and regional agencies and organizations. An alumni advisory board is being formed.
An independent review of the proposed program by two professors of entrepreneurship from other schools and three business representatives said the reputation of the College of Business and Economics, including the expertise of its faculty members, makes it an excellent choice to offer the major.