Thursday September 8, 2005

Entrepreneurs at the Table

New UD program for entrepreneurs gets business owners and students to the table for real world discussions.

Anyone in business knows that networking is essential. For entrepreneurs, it can mean the difference between success and failure.

The University of Dayton, named one of the country's most entrepreneurial campuses by The Princeton Review and, is starting The UD E.A.T. Luncheons (Entrepreneurs at the Table), which will bring local entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship students together to build relationships, test classroom knowledge against practical applications and help spur growth of the entrepreneurial spirit in the Dayton area.

The program is the result of a new, $50,000 Jim and Esther Eiting Entrepreneurship Endowment to the University of Dayton School of Business Administration. Jim Eiting, chairman of Midmark Corp. and a UD alumnus, created the endowment to encourage entrepreneurship students and local entrepreneurs to have discussions of mutual interest during periodic luncheons. UD will hold four luncheons during the academic year with the first one scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 5, at noon in the Kennedy Union ballroom on campus.

"Our national rankings and rapid growth have created an excitement for learning," said Robert Chelle, director of UD's Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and its entrepreneur-in-residence. "The gift from Jim & Esther Eiting is an acknowledgment of what we're doing right and will allow us to do more of the right things."

The entrepreneurship program is one of the hottest majors on campus. The program started in 1999 with just 10 students, and this fall enrolled a record 118 majors.
This year's class is one of the most academically prepared compared to previous years with a grade point average of 3.4.

And, it seems the desire to be an entrepreneur is instilled early on. Fifty-two percent of the students in this year's class come from families with their own businesses. In the past, only 25 to 33 percent of students entered the program with that kind of background.

The UD E.A.T Luncheons will give future entrepreneurs the opportunity to hear from business owners about family and legacy issues, conflict resolution tactics and a host of other topics that may not be discussed in the classroom, according to Eiting.

"Classroom instruction is one thing, but students need to be exposed to people who've gone through the trials, tribulations and joys of owning a business," Eiting said. "It means so more to talk about the real world stuff - it's where the rubber hits the road."

The UD E.A.T Luncheons also will give area business owners an opportunity to learn about the values and aspirations of the latest generation of prospective business graduates, as well as a chance to test and measure the business skills of entrepreneurship majors to see if corporate needs are being by what students are learning in class.

For more information, contact Robert Chelle at (937) 229-2022.