Campus: CSU Fresno -- March 28, 2003

Fresno State Entrepreneurship Program Ranked in Top Tier by Magazine


California State University, Fresno's entrepreneurship program claimed two high rankings in a survey of regional entrepreneurial colleges and universities by Entrepreneur magazine.

Fresno State's entrepreneurship program was ranked No. 4 nationally among regional universities by its peers and was among the Top 12 of the best colleges and universities with a regional focus.

This is the first time Fresno State's entrepreneurship program has been recognized by a national media source since its inception in 1996.More than 700 entrepreneurship programs were researched from September to December 2002 with 30 criteria used in the study conducted for Entrepreneur magazine.

"This is very exciting, particularly the fact that other entrepreneurship program directors ranked us No. 4 among all regional programs," said Dr. Bob Hill, professor and a holder of one of two endowed chairs in entrepreneurship at Fresno State. "We've always believed that we had one of the top programs in entrepreneurship.Now, we have some corroboration of that belief," Hill said.

Dr. Timothy Stearns, director of Fresno State's Lyles Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and holder of the Coleman Foundation Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies, said several key factors have raised Fresno State's stature. Among them are the commitment by the Coleman Foundation to fund programs to grow entrepreneurship and the creation of the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which assists students, faculty and the community in their entrepreneurial pursuits.

"Coupled with the commitment from President Welty and Provost Ortiz, we have been able to craft a formula for success in a very short period of time," said Stearns. "We take great pride in that we are now ranked with universities and colleges that launched entrepreneurship in the 1970s and 1980s while our program is barely seven years old.

"We are on the cutting edge of entrepreneurship programs by integrating innovation and entrepreneurship into our curriculum," said Stearns. "We also have designed the program with a strong emphasis on application. In fact, we are the only university in the listing that identifies 'applied entrepreneurship' as a core to our program," Stearns noted.

"I have been telling people for some time that we have one of the best applied programs in the country and the study by Entrepreneurship Magazine confirms that. The resources, both on and off campus, far exceed what any student would experience at another campus in terms of facilitating their efforts to launch a business or acquire the entrepreneurial skills necessary to be successful in the work place. And entrepreneurship skills are the most sought after by college students across the nation," Stearns said.

Hill also credited studentsand the business community in Fresno with the success of the program. "A major distinction of our program is the extent to which our entrepreneurship students have been woven into the fabric of local entrepreneurial endeavors," Hill said. "This process requires entrepreneurs willing to open their businesses up to our students and highly capable and responsible students that can step up and make a positive difference.We are very fortunate to have both ingredients."

Student Rebecca White said Fresno State's program has given her "a new lease on life, a new perspective and a can-do approach to starting a venture of my own." Jim Wright, a Graduate Entrepreneur Award recipient, called his experience at Fresno State "phenomenal."

"I returned to school after 25 years of working in a corporate business environment to study entrepreneurship. At Fresno State, not only are the basics regarding successful business startups covered, but we also study scientific research about best entrepreneurial practices, network with successful entrepreneurs and community leaders, and have the opportunities to practice entrepreneurial skills with local businesses and community organizations," Wright said.

Garrett Jones, president of the Fresno State chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization, stated that the entrepreneurship program has given the CEO club the support and guidance to grow and even start a business.

"When we attend national meetings, students from other campuses want to know the 'Fresno secret' for success," said Jones. "It is the strong emphasis on doing rather than listening that makes this program a great opportunity for students. The professors are real entrepreneurs that bring interest and experience to the CEO club. They take us from being thought of as a club to perceiving ourselves as a business."

To view Entrepreneur Magazine's listings, see www.entrepreneur.com/topcolleges.

Media contact: Shirley Melikian Armbruster (559) 278-2795 or (559) 269-5261

Lyles Center contact: Timothy M. Stearns (559) 287-4332


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