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  May 6, 2002

New Business Minor to Start in Fall
By Claudia G. Chamberlain

Beginning in the fall, undergraduates in Storrs will be able to enroll in a business minor, that will provide them with a package of skills to enhance their job marketability and business acumen, as they pursue degrees in fields outside the School of Business.

At the same time, students at the Avery Point campus will be able to enroll in a version of the minor that will focus on entrepreneurship and small business management. And there are plans to extend the program to other campuses in the future.

Introduction of the minor at the Storrs campus follows an extensive review by the business school's faculty, and an allocation of some $50,000 in seed money from the Chancellor's office. The Avery Point program is being funded independently, and includes an endowment from Michael Daversa, a successful local entrepreneur who operated his own business.

"We have a significant demand from students who want some professional business education as part of their bachelor's degree but don't want to be business majors," says Jeff Rummel, associate dean of business.

The business minor is aimed at providing students with a greater understanding and exposure to a core of business courses that includes accounting, marketing, business law, management, finance, and management information systems.

"For example, if a student is majoring in fine arts and decides to work for a museum or a performing arts company, the minor will provide valuable additional skills," says Rummel. "With the new economy and more people working for small start-up companies, a course in accounting or management will help science and engineering majors understand how a business operates."

The business minor will require students to take five, 200-level classes in the School of Business. But the start up of the minor will be a gradual process.

Rummel anticipates that the demand from students will exceed initial availability. He expects the program to grow from four or five classes in the fall to six or seven classes by spring 2003, with capacity for some 40 to 50 students in each class. This will have to increase significantly, Rummel says, to handle the number of potential business minors, which could be as many as 400 students per year.

The fall courses will be staffed by existing faculty and senior Ph.D. students who are preparing to enter the job market. Rummel says the business school will increase the number of Ph.D. students as the business minor program expands.

John Veiga, head of the management department, says the department has much to offer with respect to entrepreneurship.

"Quite often we find students from other disciplines, such as the sciences or engineering, have very good initial ideas about a new product or service, but need guidance on how to start a new venture," Veiga says. "This is what the minor in entrepreneurship and small business management is intended to address."

Veiga says the Avery Point campus was selected to offer a business minor because it is viewed as having a positive impact on the local and state economy.

"The New London area seems to be on a roll, and we think by encouraging more of the Avery Point graduates to give serious thought to starting a new business, we can also contribute to this momentum," says Veiga. "Simply put, we want to give something back to the state and we think New London is fertile ground to do this."

Joseph J. Comprone, associate vice chancellor and director at Avery Point, says five courses will be required and offered over a two-year period for students enrolled in the minor in entrepreneurial studies. Students will complete 15 hours of business school course work focusing on management and business plan courses.

Curriculum highlights include: an introduction to business planning and management; individualized professional advice on completing a business plan and starting a business; a dinner lecture and discussion course that will bring experienced regional entrepreneurs to talk and interact with students; and internship opportunities enabling students to gain practical experience in areas related to their business interests.

Full time faculty drawn from both the School of Business in Storrs and the Small Business Association staff at Avery Point will teach the courses.

Comprone notes that the Avery Point region includes numerous small businesses and cottage industries, many of them spin-offs from the region's larger corporations, such as Pfizer Inc. and Electric Boat, or from high-tech companies that are providers of services to the larger corporations. The cottage industries include a large number of tourist-related businesses serving both the casinos and the seacoast tourist population. In addition, many U.S. Navy personnel associated with the submarine base in Groton are committed to creating small businesses when they leave the military.

"All of this makes the Avery Point campus an ideal location for a high-quality and creative entrepreneurial program," he says.

In another year, the College of Continuing Studies, working with faculty and staff at Storrs and Avery Point, will offer adult learners the opportunity to complete a 12-hour non-credit certificate in entrepreneurial studies that embraces a combination of liberal arts and business courses.

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