According to recent rankings by “Entrepreneur” magazine, SLU has one of the most successful programs for entrepreneurship studies in higher education, as its graduate program ranked at no. 20 and undergraduate program ranked at no. 33 on the list.
SLU’s legacy of entrepreneurship academia and deep connection to the burgeoning St. Louis start-up community is evident inside and outside the classroom, where students are challenged to develop and put entrepreneurial mindsets to use.
Senior and aspiring entrepreneur Nathan Held has been part of SLU’s entrepreneurship program since his freshman year. In addition to its great reputation, the quality of faculty is another aspect of the program that stands out to him.
“I like that entrepreneurship is a little broader and gives you a study of all disciplines of business. I like SLU’s program especially, as we have some great faculty and are ranked highly,” he said.
Faculty in the department include professor Jerome Katz, Ph.D., who holds the Robert H. Brockhaus Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship. He has been involved with SLU’s entrepreneurship program for over 30 years and performs research in many entrepreneurial arenas, including global startup identification and educational opportunities.
His own entrepreneurial endeavors and professional experiences laid the foundation for his textbook “Entrepreneurial Small Business,” which he utilizes in the courses he teaches at SLU. It is also included nationally within higher education entrepreneurship curriculums.
“The book is regarded as unusually hands on and practical for an academic textbook … The stories I’ve heard from the community and the stories created by our SLU student entrepreneurs become the vignettes and case studies students all over the world (there are international and Chinese versions of the text) learn about and from,” he commented.
The program’s emphasis on hands-on learning extends to the wealth of resources offered to students outside the classroom. The Chaifetz School of Business also puts on annual student competitions such as the Pure Idea Generator, Real Elevator Pitch and Pitch and Catch contests, in which students have the opportunity to develop and pitch their ideas while being exposed to other entrepreneurs in the St. Louis community.
“Students have come to SLU for the entrepreneurship program from all over the world, and when they see what a great startup-supporting community St. Louis is, they decide to stay here. During any given year, we’ll have over 300 local entrepreneurs in our classes as speakers, judges and mentors, and that connects town and gown in all sorts of beneficial ways.
Many SLU alumni have gone on to develop their ideas into corporate, social and independent business ventures, including SLU trustee and benefactor Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz. Chaifetz is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of ComPsych Corporation, the largest employee wellness program today, as well as Chaifetz Group, a private investment firm. He has since donated $15 million to launch the Chaifetz Center for Entrepreneurship and to support SLU’s business school, which has been named in his honor. Through SLU’s entrepreneurship program, Katz believes that “We prepare a world of SLU entrepreneurs for the world of entrepreneurship.”