University axes entrepeneurship minor

Derek Wolff

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After consistently failing to fill classrooms, the Seidman College of Business elected in a controversial decision to drop entrepreneurship as a minor days before students registered for classes.

On March 22, at 4:52 p.m., the announcement that the entrepreneurship minor would be axed at the end of the semester was delivered to the entrepreneurship students’ e-mails, giving them only half a day to figure out their options. Registration for 2010-11 classes was the next day.

Seidman College of Business Dean H. James Williams had met with members of the Grand Valley Collegiate Entrepreneurship Organization (CEO) on Feb. 23 to discuss changes to the program and receive student feedback. Jaclyn Boroff, vice president of events for CEO, attended the meeting.

“There were talks about potentially changing the classes within the minor, but no one knew about completely getting rid of it,” Boroff said. “A lot of students were hurt when it happened because they were not told with a lot of time. It just ended.”

Citing a general lack of support for the program since its inception five and a half years ago, Williams defended his decision to eliminate the final four courses that would complete the minor.

“We decided not to offer the final four courses that comprise the minor because students were simply not enrolling in those courses,” he said. “Over the five-and-one-half years, these courses enrolled, on average, six students, when the minimum required number is generally 15. The Seidman College of Business cannot continue to offer courses enrolling these limited numbers.”

The timing of the drop still proved to be an inconvenience to many students enrolled in the program. While students with existing entrepreneurship minors can still complete the program by taking the substitute business courses offered, some students were not thrilled with this proposition.

“It’s a whole different atmosphere,” explained senior Michelle Mitus. “A lot of people want to take classes for their minor. Business classes are not what entrepreneurship students want to fill the void.”

The Seidman College of Business will continue to offer the basic entrepreneurship classes, ENT 150 and 151, as well as courses in small business management and the writing of business plans.

Williams and his colleagues will also offer a survey toward the end of this semester in order to ascertain feedback on interest in a new series of entrepreneurship programs.

“The data suggests strongly that the existing version of the minor does not work,” Williams said. “We are simply going back to the proverbial ‘drawing board’. We plan to continue to meet the needs of the Grand Valley student population.”

While GVSU has now closed its entrepreneurship minor, Central Michigan University has just created its own. However, Williams remains confident in GVSU’s approach.

“I remain convinced that Grand Valley is absolutely the most student-centered, quality-focused institution of higher education in the state of Michigan,” he said.

In the meantime, CEO encouraged students affected by the drop to be patient and wait for the reforms in the fall. They also advocated participation in the survey.

“We’re making sure that students know we’re willing to help them even though some classes are no longer available,” Boroff said. “We’ll find people who can teach them what they want to know.”

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