The donation, made by W. Kyle Foote, an entrepreneur who operates the investment and equity firm WKF Associates, is designed to help undergraduate and graduate students as well as recent graduates and community members create, plan, fund and launch new businesses.
Westminster visiting professor Mike Glauser, who has started several companies and worked as a business consultant, will direct the institute, which will focus on entrepreneurship in three areas: the development of new businesses, the creation of new products and services for existing companies; and the creation of enterprises aimed at addressing community needs.
"Programs offered by the institute will allow Westminster students to connect the theory they learn in the classroom with real life practice and application," Glauser said.
He cites studies that nearly half of business students want to start their own companies upon graduation, a goal that represents a shift from the past decade or so.
To accommodate that new mentality, the programs will consist of courses, workshops, on-the-job experiences with new companies, competitions and mentoring from entrepreneurs.
"We will have a heavy link with entrepreneurs who will give lectures, speak to classes and serve as mentors to our students," Glauser said. "We are here for anyone who wants to start any type of business of any size, be it for-profit or not-for-profit."
Master's of business administration students can begin the 12-credit-hour certificate program beginning in the fall. Recent business school graduates who participate in the MasterTrack program also can begin focusing on entrepreneurship this fall.
Classes also will be available to undergraduates in the fall, but the formal program for them will not launch until fall 2008, Glauser said.
Utah recently was ranked the top state for "economic dynamism" by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. The ranking gauges "the degree to which state economies are knowledge-based, globalized, entrepreneurial, information technology-driven and innovation-based."
Jim Clark, dean of the Gore School of Business, said that's partially why the institute is a "natural fit" for both the school and the state.
"Westminster has a tradition of connecting theory with application, and many of our graduates have gone on to be successful entrepreneurs," he said in a statement. "This new institute will provide our students with a powerful learning environment in which to nurture their entrepreneurial spirits, whether they want to start their own company, or unleash their creativity within existing organizations."
* SHEENA MCFARLAND can be contacted at email@example.com or 801-257-8619.