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President Wright on Minority Entrepreneurs

Joins other college presidents at Atlanta forum

President James Wright was one of three college and university presidents making presentations at a National Policy Forum on Minority Entrepreneurship Education April 8 in Atlanta.

Wright focused on the example offered by Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, which has operated its highly successful Minority Business Executive Education program for more than 25 years.

"The business climate is continually evolving," he said. "We live in an increasingly complex global environment, and the Tuck program helps minority executives succeed within this environment." He noted that more than 3,000 individuals have participated in the program, representing 2,400 businesses with 102,000 employees, and that, as a result, the vast majority of the participants have reported making improvements in all dimensions of operating their businesses and creating new jobs.

Other campus presidents speaking were Beverly Tatum, president of Spelman College, and James Moeser, chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The roundtable discussion focused on minority entrepreneurship education and how it may benefit African American students. Wright was asked to speak from the perspective of a specialist in American political history who is also president of a leading college strongly committed to diversity. Other participants were Mohammad Bhuiyan, president and CEO of Minority Entrepreneurship Education, Inc., and Judith Cone, senior vice president of the Kauffman Foundation.
Wright also stressed the important role colleges and universities must play in promoting minority entrepreneurship. "This is an important topic, for the black community and indeed for all of higher education," he said. "We need to have our faculty and staff taking risks and continually innovating, to serve as models of the sort of behavior we want our minority students to see."

Sponsored by the Minority Entrepreneurship, Inc., and Opportunity Funding Corporation, the forum was designed to address particularly the entrepreneurship education of students at historically black colleges and universities. Participants included the presidents of 25 such institutions, more than 120 top students from those institutions along with deans and faculty members, presidents of six major foundations (including the Kauffman Foundation, KPMG Foundation, and the Georgia Pacific Foundation), 35 CEOs and senior vice presidents of Fortune 500 companies, and successful entrepreneurs.

Minority Entrepreneurship, Inc., and Opportunity Funding Corporation work to help historically black colleges and universities develop comprehensive entrepreneurship curricula that are particularly relevant in preparing young African American men and women to become entrepreneurs. The program also aims to stimulate student interest in entrepreneurship and to give students the experience of conceiving business ventures and presenting business plans.

During Wright's administration, Dartmouth has responded to growing interest in entrepreneurial activities among its students and faculty in a number of ways, including establishment in 2001 of the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network (DEN). DEN offers educational opportunities in entrepreneurship as well as service to start-ups seeking guidance about their ventures and is open to all faculty, students, and alumni of Dartmouth, and to start-up businesses in the Upper Valley on a case-by-case basis.

By ROLAND ADAMS

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Last Updated: 12/17/08