UH Bauer Entrepreneurship Program is No. 1 in U.S. Again

Published on September 23, 2010

City of Houston and UH Bauer Lead the Nation in Entrepreneurial Education and Activity

Houston Mayor Annise D. Parker, center, celebrates the No. 1 ranking of the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship with WCE students and alumni as well as UH Bauer Dean Arthur Warga (to her left), UH Bauer alumna and State Rep. Carol Alvarado, and City of Houston Controller and UH Bauer alumnus Ronald C. Green.

For the second time in four years, the entrepreneurship program at the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business has been ranked the best of its kind in the nation, landing at the top of The Princeton Review’s list of leading undergraduate entrepreneurship programs in the U.S. for Entrepreneur magazine.

The Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at UH Bauer again is No. 1 on the list of the Top 25 Undergraduate Schools for Entrepreneurs, released by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur on Sept. 20. The program was ranked No. 1 in 2008 and No. 2 in 2007 and 2009.

“We have always believed that Houston is a place where the spirit of entrepreneurship is especially strong,” Bauer College Dean Arthur D. Warga said. “The prestigious designation of UH Bauer as No. 1 in entrepreneurship is an incredible accomplishment not only for our program and the university but also for the City of Houston.”

Ranking second and third on the list are Baylor University and Babson College, respectively. The entrepreneurship program at UH Bauer also topped The University of Notre Dame, Syracuse University, Washington University, University of Southern California and University of Arizona.

“We’re so proud of the students, faculty and staff of the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship,” Warga added. “This is quite an achievement — The Princeton Review is one of the country’s premier ranking surveys for colleges, and Entrepreneur is the top business title in the U.S.”

The Kauffman Foundation recently ranked Houston as the leading city in terms of entrepreneurial activity, out of the 15 largest U.S. cities. Despite an economic downturn and record unemployment, entrepreneurial activity nationwide has risen in the past year, according to a study from the Kauffman Foundation, with 558,000 new businesses created each month in the United States.

HOUSTON’S LEADERS SALUTE UH, CITY RANKING & TIER ONE QUEST

Leaders from the city’s political, business and academic worlds spoke to the enthusiastic crowd which filled the lobby of City Hall during a Sept. 22 celebration to commemorate the ranking and laud Houston’s multitude of accomplishments.

Dean Arthur Warga, center, is flanked by City of Houston and UH System leadership as he announces the No. 1 ranking of the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship.

Wolff Center students, UH System Board of Regents Former Chair Welcome Wilson, Sr., Insperity President Richard Rawson (’72), Cameron CEO Jack Moore (’77), Integrity Financial President and CEO Jeff Allen (BS ’72), and Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff (’53) joined the chorus of applause along with City Council members and State Rep. Carol Alvarado.  Business leaders representing a broad spectrum of companies and industries reverberated the city’s and UH’s spirit of entrepreneurship.  A unifying theme in all of the podium remarks was how the latest ranking reinforced UH’s position as a Tier One institution.

“We’re here to celebrate the success of the University of Houston, of the City of Houston and the Bauer College of Business,” said Ronald Green, City of Houston controller and a UH alumnus. “The Bauer College of Business is already Tier One and we’re here to recognize that.”

The Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship reflects the spirit of enterprise of the city of Houston, which has been shaped by entrepreneurs who dared to do big things, Green said.

“Houston is a city of people with passion and vision,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “The University of Houston is one of our crown jewels.”

Jeff Moseley, the president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, said the area’s top business promotion organization will emphasize the number one ranking when working to convince businesses to move or expand in Houston.

“We’re going to brag about it all over the world,” Moseley said. “The number one ranking will get the attention of big companies.”

Bauer College has been educating business leaders for decades, with the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship cementing the school’s status as a leader in entrepreneurship when it was created in 1993. The Commission for Higher Education approved entrepreneurship as a major in 1995. Since then, the program has flourished and developed courses for entrepreneurship majors as well as business minors, now attracting more than 1,800 students a semester.

WCE founder Bill Sherrill, left, and WCE benefactor Melvyn Wolff, right, visit with entrepreneurship students during a reception at Houston City Hall to announce the program’s No. 1 ranking.

The program has also gained respect from members of the Houston community, who mentor students in the program. Longstanding and highly respected Houstonians Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff became the namesakes of the program in 2008. Wolff is a 1953 graduate of Bauer College, a member of the Dean’s Executive Board and chairman of the board for Star Furniture, a Berkshire-Hathaway company.

Wolff, who attended the Sept. 22 celebration, said he enjoys meeting every student majoring in entrepreneurship each semester to trade ideas and advice over lunch. He said a defining feature of those in the program is “the students really have a fire in their belly” to compete and create a business.

Before 2007, Bauer’s entrepreneurship program was recognized regionally. The recent national rankings are indicative of the tremendous growth and breadth of the program, which educates business students as well as those from other disciplines through its global business minor, Warga said.

“The Wolff Center is teaching an entrepreneurial process that is equally applicable to any major at Bauer and students across the University. Our entrepreneurship faculty are experienced entrepreneurs, all of whom have landed, bought or successfully run their own businesses. About 40 percent of students involved in the entrepreneurship program are not business majors, and 53 percent of undergraduate students at Bauer participate in the program. Our students gain tremendous learning from our faculty’s real world experience,” he added.

The ranking also validates the world-class education Bauer students receive through the Wolff Center’s entrepreneurship program, its global business minor and its corporate entrepreneurship certification program, he added.

“Most importantly, students are starting businesses, and they’re primarily staying in the Houston area, benefiting our local economy,” Warga said. “From restaurants to goods and service-oriented companies, the success stories of WCE graduates can be seen in businesses throughout the city.”

Bauer College offers its entrepreneurship students a complete and comprehensive program that includes a six-course lockstep program as well as several enrichment activities to supplement the academic instruction. Each year, between 30 and 35 students are selected through a rigorous application process to take the Wolff Center’s major program in entrepreneurship.

UH Bauer Dean’s Executive Board chairman Richard Rawson, left, and entrepreneurship students who attended the Sept. 22 announcement at City Hall celebrated the ranking with commemorative T-shirts boasting “#1” across the chest.

In addition, the WCE certification program in corporate entrepreneurship is the foundation of the college’s global business minor for non-business students. Nearly 1,000 non-business students take WCE courses each year and have an opportunity to see how entrepreneurial thinking can be applied to their interests in engineering, science, social science or the arts.

Each year, an average of 65 percent of WCE students started a business while in school or shortly after graduating. Others go on to join existing ventures and to apply the entrepreneurial lessons learned at UH Bauer to innovate and expand those businesses. WCE students have also won numerous awards in national business plan competitions — even outperforming MBA teams from other schools including Carnegie Mellon. Students in Bauer’s executive MBA program have also had the opportunity to take elective courses in entrepreneurship and corporate entrepreneurship.

The Princeton Review determined the rankings of both graduate and undergraduate programs by evaluating key criteria in the areas of academics and requirements, students and faculty, and outside-the-classroom support and experiences from more than 2,000 programs that were surveyed.

“To be included in the Top 25 undergraduate entrepreneurship programs in the nation is a big success for us and very humbling,” Warga added. “It’s an honor to be in that group of elite schools. The idea of teaching entrepreneurship has grown very rapidly, and there are a lot of good schools doing that now. It’s very important for the future of our city and country.”

For more information and a complete listing of the schools included on the list, go to www.entrepreneur.com/topcolleges.  Full details will also appear in the October issue of Entrepreneur available on newsstands starting Sept. 21.

By Jessica Navarro and Stephen Rassenfoss