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Business program ranks up 10 spots

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Publish on February 25, 2009 in The Huntington News

The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur Magazine ranked the College of Business Administration (CBA) undergraduate entrepreneurship program 14th in the nation out of 2,300 programs in their latest rankings, up 10 spots from last year.

Entrepreneurial programs were evaluated and ranked on three basic areas, according to entrepreneur.com. The first, academics and requirements, investigates whether there is an entrepreneurship major or minor available, and what the course offerings and experiential learning opportunities are. Students and faculty then factor in statistics about recent graduates, current careers and success, as well as percentages of the staff that have experience.

Finally, there is outside the classroom, which surveys the amount of entrepreneur organizations within the school to see if there were special scholarships for students and if there are competitions in the field.

Senior Associate Dean Bill Crittenden said he believes the program has been strong before the jump in ranking.

“With Northeastern, and on a whole, there’s greater recognition of things we’ve been doing all along that are recognized as being valuable and important,” he said. “As our graduates become better recognized, we get better recognition in these ranking programs.”

Many graduates of the program are being noticed on a national scale, like a 2004 graduate who was honored with the ‘National Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award’ by Small Business Administration. This is an indicator of how Northeastern graduates are elevating to high position jobs in the northeast, said entrepreneurship professor Marc Meyer, Ph.D.

“If you look at large technology companies around, Northeastern alumns are prominent,” he said. “We are a Mecca of entrepreneurship in the region.”

This notable success of Northeastern graduates is one of the four factors that Meyer believes helped boost the ranking. Another attribute Meyer said he thinks helped the program gain in rank is the quality and number of faculty that have substantial experience, like Daniel McCarthy, a former service innovator at Mars candy corporation.

“In the last four years we’ve brought on a new face in the area each year,” Crittenden said. “And if not a new person each year, somebody that is more experienced that might be helping us on a part time basis for a specialized class where we bring in expertise.”

Meyer said he also considers the enthusiasm and success of students as helpful factors that boosted the rankings, as well as the types of programs that are offered, ranging from family business to social enterprise.

“None of this existed in a formalized track until the past five years,” he said. “It’s a nice portfolio of offerings that ranking services look at.”

This recent change can be attributed to entrepreneurship and innovation becoming an individual group of the CBA three years ago, Crittenden said.

“We wanted to set it up as a separate part of the [CBA], where at many schools it becomes part of the management department somewhere,” he said. “We’ve said no, it’s a really important group and we wanted it to be one of the seven major groups in the CBA.”

Both said another large part of the entrepreneurship program is the startup of social entrepreneurship, largely internationally with trips for undergraduates to travel to Africa or the Dominican Republic to help locals start up businesses.

“It’s an attempt to bridge a gap between social outreach and a need to give back to communities,” Crittenden said. “Also, it’s to recognize the power of entrepreneurship; to enable individuals to better themselves within a community.”

Despite the high rankings and opportunities while an undergraduate, some graduates are finding it hard to make the program useful in the current economy.

“It doesn’t really set you up for a job when you come out of school,” said Andy Loven, who graduated from the program in 2008. “I’ve written a couple of business plans, but it’s impossible to get funding.”

However, Loven said he would consider his experience in the program positive, and that he thinks it will pay off once he has an established business.

“I think it will [come in handy] down the line, just not right now,” he said.

Regardless, the program has had obvious success and has grown drastically, said Meyer, who has been with the university since 1987.

“So the bottom line is that everything has changed,” he said. “But the thing that has not changed is the natural inclination and culture of Northeastern and the types of people that come here. Students lean toward independence and entrepreneurship, and that’s been consistent since the day I showed up here.”

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Written by jdunccc

February 25, 2009 at 12:00 am