JoAnn and Jim Carland
JoAnn and Jim Carland teach an entrepreneurship class at Western.

CULLOWHEE – The Master of Entrepreneurship Program at Western Carolina University claimed first place in a recent nationwide competition sponsored by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

The USASBE, which is regarded as the oldest and most prestigious organization for entrepreneurship education in the country, presented the award to Western's program during the association's annual national conference, held Jan. 13-16 in Indian Wells, Calif.

Representing Western at the competition were Jim and JoAnn Carland, the husband-and-wife team who envisioned and developed Western's undergraduate and graduate degree programs in entrepreneurship.

“The Carlands had an outstanding submission. It was very innovative, yet comprehensive, detailed and well thought out,” said Robin Anderson of the University of Portland and vice president of the USASBE entrepreneurship education division, who presented the award.

“Rather than just adapt an MBA program to accommodate entrepreneurship students, Jim and JoAnn did extensive work in creating an entire master's program focused on how best to educate graduate students preparing to begin entrepreneurial activities,” Anderson said. “The judges selected this program as a national model for universities that are developing graduate programs in entrepreneurship.”

The designation of Western's program as a national model comes less than two years after the program's inception. The honor also comes just one year after Western, home of the nation's only Master of Entrepreneurship Program, finished second to Harvard University in the 2004 USASBE competition.

 “Western's M.E. program has quickly established itself as a national model in entrepreneurship education,” Anderson said. “This is quite an accomplishment for a program that is still in its infancy.”

Western offers its graduate curriculum in entrepreneurship as an Internet-based distance education program and as a traditional residential program. The university also offers an undergraduate program in entrepreneurship, the first in North Carolina.

 The entrepreneurship degree programs are designed to address a critical need across North Carolina for sustainable economic development through successful business start-ups by developing students' entrepreneurial abilities, one of the most frequently cited requirements for a successful career in business and for a healthy and robust economy.

Economists estimate that up to 60 percent of new jobs in North Carolina are created by owners of small businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration estimates that only 40 percent of new business ventures survive through the first five years, largely due to a lack of preparation by the entrepreneurs. Programs such as Western's are designed to help provide those skills, said Leroy Kauffman, dean of Western's College of Business.

The mission of the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship is to advance knowledge and foster business development through entrepreneurship education and research. USASBE is regarded as the premier network for entrepreneurship educators at all student levels, for professional practitioners, for entrepreneurship researchers, and for government policy makers.

For more information about the Master of Entrepreneurship Program, call (828) 227-3386. For information on other graduate study programs, contact Western's Office of Research and Graduate Studies at (828) 227-7398 or (800) 369-9854.

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Last modified: Friday, March 24, 2014 | Originally published: Monday, January 31, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Western Carolina University