Campus: CSU Fullerton -- January 31, 2003

Cal State Fullerton Begins Program, Opens Center To Help Students Become Entrepreneurs

Business administration major Lynn Melton took a break from her college studies to become a successful restaurant owner.

Success as a restaurateur, however, wasn't enough. She still wanted the business degree. So she returned to Cal State Fullerton, where she had begun her studies years before, and found a program and a center to help her meet her goals.

Melton is among the first group of students to pursue an entrepreneur concentration within the university's business administration major. The undergraduate concentration, introduced last fall, spans six courses on marketing, finance and accounting. Students learn to write a business plan, and in the capstone course, put classroom learning into practical application.

Students like Melton also are flocking to the university's new Center for Entrepreneurship, which was established to support the academic program and to recruit students to this specialized area of study. Directing the center is Michael D. Ames, professor of management.

"Our goal is to help students succeed and then have them return to campus as part of the entrepreneurial network," says Ames, who has directed the university's award-winning Small Business Institute for more than a decade. The institute, now part of the center, matches small companies with student teams who advise on ways to expand or improve the business.

Part of the center's charge is to assist students "from recruitment and admission through to graduation," Ames says, adding that the center operates an outreach program at community colleges, providing suggestions on classes to take before enrolling at Cal State Fullerton. For on-campus students, the center provides mentors, conducts needs assessments and tracks student progress - all with support from a board of advisers.

"After our students graduate, we want them to enter our Venture Pathways Program," he adds. The program matches graduates with advisory boards, provides additional training and even leads alumni to potential funding sources.

"This is a great program," offers restaurateur Melton. "No matter what your interests are, entrepreneurship covers it. Everything that I learn has applications to what I do in my own business." The classes, the center and the club "provide benefits to me every day. It may not make me more successful, but meeting people with loads of ideas - it's stimulating."

"We want to groom our students so they can make smart decisions - choices on income, goals, venture capital," says Ames. "It's their ideas, their energy.... When they decide where they're going, we're here to help them get there."

This is the latest effort directed to Cal State Fullerton students in the sphere of entrepreneurship. Two years ago, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the College of Business and Economics collaborated in the development of the Dan Black Program in Physics & Business. Under the program, physics majors can pursue a physics degree with an emphasis in business. Participating students take the standard core courses in physics, but elective courses are in business. The program is supported by an annual $100,000 contribution from Dan Black, a 1967 Cal State Fullerton physics graduate who founded Advanced Medical Nutrition Inc., then sold it for more than $16 million in 1968.

Media Contacts: Michael Ames, professor of management and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, at (949) 644-4541 or sbiames@fullerton.edu. Pam McLaren of Public Affairs at (714) 278-4852 or pmclaren@fullerton.edu.


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