Jan 26, 2007

Undergraduate Entrepreneurship College Opens in Phoenix

Grand Canyon University features classes taught by full-time business owners, not academics.


For undergraduates who complain that college doesn't teach them anything about the real world, a new four-year school in Arizona seeks to deliver business lessons from those who know them first-hand.

Grand Canyon University's College of Entrepreneurship, based in Phoenix, will offer courses all taught by full-time business owners, not academics. Classes began on Jan. 10.

The Christian university, which was founded in 1949, initially provided only teacher education. Today, it also offers degrees in nursing, business, and liberal arts, with most of its classes also available online. The university has 11,000 students, but only 2,500 live and study in classrooms on campus. Entrepreneurship will be its newest degree program and all of its new classes will also be offered online.

According to Brent Richardson, the CEO of Grand Canyon, 36 new courses have been developed for the College of Entrepreneurship, which now has approximately 100 students, half of whom take classes online.

“I like the challenge of doing something that nobody else is doing,” Richardson said.

Students will have access to money from a venture-capital fund, so that their ideas can be put to work as they study. While this is not the only fund of its kind, it is among those that provide financial resources to undergraduates only.

The idea for the program came from self-made millionaire and serial entrepreneur, Peter J. Burns III, who had been teaching a popular entrepreneurship class pro bono at Arizona State University in nearby Tempe. He then suggested to the ASU administration that they launch a program specifically designed for aspiring entrepreneurs, but the administration turned him down. In April 2006, Burns approached Grand Canyon.

“This experience will be different from any other because it combines academics with real-world experience,” Richardson said.

Michael Gerber will serve as chairman of the college. The author of The E Myth: Why Most Small Business Don’t Work and What to Do About It, Gerber is also the founder and chairman of E-Myth Worldwide, which provides coaching and consulting services to small-business owners.

“I think the opening of this college is an exciting opportunity to bring to nascent entrepreneurs the inspiration, education, and real-world experience that is sorely needed,” Gerber said.