New partnership expands entrepreneurship degree opportunities

Above: From left, Rose Johnson, president of Haywood Community College; John W. Bardo, WCU chancellor; and Bill Rhodarmer, vice president of academics and workforce development at HCC, sign the entrepreneurship degree articulation agreement.

Above: From left, Rose Johnson, president of Haywood Community College; John W. Bardo, WCU chancellor; and Bill Rhodarmer, vice president of academics and workforce development at HCC, sign the entrepreneurship degree articulation agreement.

Students entering Haywood Community College’s new entrepreneurship degree program this fall will be able to transfer seamlessly to Western Carolina University and complete a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship two years later under an articulation agreement recently signed by leaders of the two institutions.

“This partnership will make the critical study of entrepreneurship more accessible to students who are the future business leaders and innovators of our region,” said WCU Chancellor John W. Bardo. “At a time when so many traditional manufacturing jobs have moved overseas, small business and entrepreneurship offer hope for our continued economic competitiveness across this state.”

Discussions between Rose Johnson, president of HCC, and Frank Lockwood, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at WCU, about a possible partnership began more than a year ago. Those talks resulted in HCC leading the North Carolina Community College System in developing the first associate degree in entrepreneurship. HCC is now working with 12 other community colleges in the state interested in implementing an entrepreneurship program for their communities.

“Small business owners play a key role in the economic welfare of our region,” said Johnson. “The development of the new associate degree in entrepreneurship at Haywood Community College recognizes this role and encourages business development.”

Alan Kines, director of undergraduate admission at WCU, described the articulation agreement for entrepreneurship with Haywood Community College as a groundbreaking achievement.

“We have enjoyed a long and prosperous relationship with Haywood Community College and want to continue to build bridges by offering their students every opportunity available,” said Kines. “This is another way that Western is showing its commitment to making our institution transfer-friendly within the UNC system.”

Last year, WCU launched the Western 2Step transfer initiative, which aligns courses at North Carolina’s community colleges with requirements for each undergraduate major at WCU. The 2Step plans identify what courses community college students interested in transferring to WCU should take in order to earn a bachelor’s degree in four years.

The entrepreneurship articulation arrangement is different because it is an agreement with only HCC that ensures HCC students who enroll in and follow the program will graduate four years later with a four-year business degree in entrepreneurship.

Students graduate with the skills necessary to start and operate a new venture that could be entrepreneurial, innovative or a small business. Courses are designed to be practical and hands-on and give students a strong foundation in business while cultivating creative thinking skills. Last year, Fortune Small Business magazine recognized WCU’s online Master of Entrepreneurship Program as one of the five best online entrepreneurship programs in the nation.

“Their degree catches attention in job interviews because entrepreneurship allows students to integrate all of the different disciplines of business, from accounting to marketing,” said Lockwood.

WCU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is located in the College of Business, which was the first in the state to offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in entrepreneurship.

For more information, contact Louis Buck, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, at (828) 227-3798 or lbuck@wcu.edu. For more information about admission or transferring to WCU, contact Brooke Roberts, senior assistant director of admission, at (828) 227-7317 or broberts@wcu.edu.