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Center for Entrepreneurship's Educational Programs Are Among the Best in the World, Says AACSB

By Keith Morelli

Michael Fountain listening to pitches

TAMPA (April 26, 2017) -- The University of South Florida's Center for Entrepreneurship, recently ranked No. 10 in the nation for the quality of its curriculum, today was named among top 15 programs on the planet.

The ranking came from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the largest business school/college accreditation body in the world. The announcement said that the entrepreneurship educational program at the University of South Florida was recognized for its commitment to creating and implementing cutting-edge interdisciplinary entrepreneurship educational programs for all USF students and "fostering entrepreneurship in the next generation of business leaders."

USF was the only Florida school on the list of best entrepreneurship programs.

The commendation came in the inaugural Entrepreneurship Spotlight Challenge, which reviewed more than 100 AACSB-accredited schools "that deliver innovative and creative best practices through a range of distinctive entrepreneurship programs, or through a variety of impactful center formats."

"I am pleased to recognize the University of South Florida for its commitment to developing thoughtful, dynamic education experiences that instill entrepreneurship and creative thinking in its students," said Thomas R. Robinson, president and CEO of AACSB International, in the announcement. "Entrepreneurship is about problem solving and working to make improvements – whether on a business or society at large – and the AACSB celebrates USF for striving to instill that same sense of responsibility in its business education curriculum."

AACSB International, the standard for business school accreditation, counts as members 1,500 organizations and 785 accredited business schools from around the globe.

"Of course, we are honored and proud to be recognized by the AACSB International, which represents the gold standard for higher education," said Michael Fountain, founding director of the USF Center for Entrepreneurship, which is located in the Muma College of Business. "The world now knows what we have known here all along: that the interdisciplinary, cross-campus entrepreneurship education programs we offer are among the best on the globe in terms of training individuals to become innovative and successful entrepreneurs and corporate innovators intent on pushing their energy into the global business community."

"The acknowledgement of our achievements is shared by everyone involved," he said, "the students, whose verve is incredible, our faculty, who are among the top-tier educators and all our real-world business supporters whose ideas and assistance make up a big part of our success."

As part of the selection process, 120 nominations coming from 34 nations were reviewed by a panel of corporate leaders from a variety of disciplines, including venture capital, consulting and accounting. In all, 35 programs from 11 countries were recognized in two categories: centers and programs.

The recognized institutions all incubate, innovate, develop and cultivate new business ideas and engage with the business community either locally or globally, to enhance student learning, the announcement said. They also have expanded their reach beyond the classroom, preparing business students for success in a globally competitive market.

The idea of the Entrepreneurship Spotlight Challenge, the announcement said, is to shine a light on exceptional programs, "and to capture and tell stories of how business schools are innovating their entrepreneurial curriculum."

Fountain said certain themes within the center resonated with the AACSB, including a recognition that entrepreneurship here is interdisciplinary and cross-campus. Through new and novel strategies, the center's educational and training programs take a lead role in connecting students within the arts, music, STEM, medicine, sustainability and other disciplines to incorporate the core strengths of each across the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem.

He also said that one of the program's pillars is that entrepreneurship and experiential education are inseparable. Here, he said, the program challenges student thinking and approaches to manage risk, through hands-on immersion experiences, collaborations with new or existing businesses, development of alumni mentorship networks and innovative partnerships.

The Center for Entrepreneurship is no stranger to accolades.

In November, it was named the top graduate program in the Southeast and was ranked No. 10 in the nation by Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review. It was the only Florida program on the list and it was the 10th consecutive year making the top 25 out of 300 schools offering entrepreneurship studies from across the nation.