MTSU management professor Joshua Aaron, the holder of the Pam Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Jones College of Business, appears on the April “Out of the Blue” television magazine program to discuss the Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship program, the college’s fastest growing undergraduate major.
The Department of Management program enrolled a record 82 freshmen for the fall 2022 semester and continues to draw interest for students attracted to the interdisciplinary nature of the program that prepares them to start a marketable to enter a variety of professional fields that focus of innovation and adaptability.
“There’s a general sense of an entrepreneurial spirit in the culture today. I think we’re benefitting from that,” said Aaron, adding that he thinks the name change to the program in 2020 to add the “innovation” instruction already baked into the major enhanced its attractiveness to students, parents and the business community.
“I think that’s given us a bit more notoriety … that you’re teaching the innovative mindset that might be applied either in the student’s new business or in their (otherwise chosen) place of business.”
Aaron is one of three faculty guests on the April program, hosted by Andrew Oppmann, vice president for marketing and communications at Middle Tennessee State University. You can watch Aaron’s segment below:
Aaron also pointed to the benefit of the support of chairholder namesake and Board of Trustee member Pam Wright as well as the more recent contributions of businessman Chuck McDowell that has allowed the program to significantly increase stipends distributed at its annual Business Plan Competition — roughly $30,000 in prizes now awarded — and other smaller entrepreneurial competitions throughout the year.
“When the students hear that, it gets their attention,” he said. “It makes them not only interested in participating, but in taking it very seriously. … You get out what you put in. The advice and the mentorship that they get from the judges that they’re going to get throughout the competition is going to be so much better.”
Thanks to seed money from a benefactor, Aaron said the program is next pursuing a mentorship program that will complement the already robust internship opportunities that every student gets before exiting the program.
“We are currently doing a pilot mentorship program … I’m hoping it ultimately grows into a mentorship academy,” Aaron said. “Students will ultimately be given the opportunity to decide which path they want to go.”
In the pilot program, a student will be paired with a mentor in a sort of “speed-dating” type interaction throughout a semester, with the student eventually giving a presentation at the end of the relationship about what they learned.
Jones College of Business students who major in Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship can earn a Bachelor of Business Administration upon successful completion of program requirements.
So even if a student decides not to pursue an entrepreneurial profession or career path, Aaron said, “they still have a very marketable degree … that they can go apply in the corporate world.”
In 2022, the Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship program was recognized by the Small Business Institute as the 2022 “Showcase Award”winner, signifying the top entrepreneurship program for that year.
“Out of the Blue” is MTSU’s monthly TV magazine show and is available anytime on the university’s YouTube channel, the True Blue TV channel, Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. It also airs on Murfreesboro cable Channel 9 daily at 6 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; NewsChannel5+ at 3:30 p.m. Sundays and on other cable outlets in Middle Tennessee, so check local listings.
It is also available as a podcast on iTunes and Google Play.
Watch previous episodes of “Out of the Blue” at https://mtsunews.com/out-of-the-blue.
— Jimmy Hart (Jimmy.Hart@mtsu.edu)