USF's Graduate Entrepreneurship Program Ranked #5 in the Nation

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 12, 2008) – The graduate entrepreneurship program at the University of South Florida has been ranked as the fifth best program in the nation, and is the only Florida public university included in the 2008 ranking compiled by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur Magazine. USF’s interdisciplinary program, which is just six years old, is included in the magazine’s October issue ranking the nation’s best educational programs. The graduate program in entrepreneurship is ranked second among all public universities in the United States. No Florida schools are included on the undergraduate list.

USF President Judy Genshaft noted that USF is among the youngest universities and the youngest programs to be included in the 2008 ranking. “We have some excellent company in the top five,” she said. “But we are firmly committed to this program and will provide resources to help the Center for Entrepreneurship rise to the number one spot!”

A longtime champion of interdisciplinary programs, Genshaft pointed out that the entrepreneurship program is a collaborative effort between the colleges of business, engineering and medicine.

“While it is exciting to see USF included in the roster, it isn’t just this ranking that’s so exciting,” said Genshaft. “Blending academics, research, and hands-on learning leads to student success. This type of collaboration is what we are trying to achieve across the university and our College of Business has demonstrated what we can achieve when we work in an interdisciplinary way.”

Despite the program’s youth, USF’s Center for Entrepreneurship has also received other honors. The United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) lauded the center for three consecutive years, most recently in January 2006. USASBE awarded its top national “Innovative Pedagogy for Entrepreneurship Education Award” to USF, honoring the center’s programs linking business, engineering, science and medicine across the USF Graduate Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Master of Science Degree in Entrepreneurship in Applied Technologies.

The university is in the planning stages for an undergraduate entrepreneurship program, aiming for a 2009 program launch.

The Princeton Review, a leading provider of educational services, surveyed more than 2,300 undergraduate and business schools about their entrepreneurship offerings. Schools were evaluated based on key criteria in the areas of academics and requirements, students and faculty, and outside-the-classroom experiences. Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s vice president of publishing, says the ranking shows that while there are overall trends, each program offers something unique for students, and that the ranking highlights “schools that are exceptional for specific reasons.”

USF’s Michael Fountain, who heads the Center for Entrepreneurship, said the program is exceptional because of its interdisciplinary programming and hands-on learning opportunities.

“From the start, our vision has been to create an internationally recognized center of excellence for interdisciplinary entrepreneurship, which fosters entrepreneurship education, training and research to develop tomorrow’s leaders. To reach the top five ranking in just six years confirms our vision was on target.”

More than thirty new ventures have been launched by graduates of USF’s Center for Entrepreneurship, ventures that bolster existing business clusters and create new business areas of concentration. Fountain said start-ups sparked by the Entrepreneurship Program are important to the regional economy. “It is much better to seed, nurture and grow new businesses than relocate, transplant and graft non-local businesses into our region,” said Fountain. “Roots for home-grown businesses run much deeper than transplanted ones and are able to better weather adverse economic environment conditions and bear more fruit through new business growth.

” While many graduates aspire to start new ventures, Fountain said the program offers students opportunities to grow new businesses or strengthen performance, too.

“Entrepreneurship is not always about simply starting a business,” he said. “It’s also about innovation within an existing business and learning how to become more competitive in a global marketplace.”

About the USF Center for Entrepreneurship: The center’s educational, training and research programs accept students from all graduate disciplines at both the master’s and doctoral levels, as well as post-graduate students. The center offers a Graduate Certificate in Entrepreneurship and a Master of Science in Entrepreneurship. In 2007, the center began offering courses to undergraduates through the USF College of Business. The Center for Entrepreneurship also boasts its own alumni association — the distinguished Kauffman Alumni Society — comprised of over 150 graduate and professional alumni from all fields, who provide mentoring, business assistance, internships and financial support for current and future entrepreneurship students.

The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded more than $360 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2007/2008. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 46,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

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