January 16, 2013 at 11:30am

Millikin University'€™s Arts & Entrepreneurship (A&E) Program received high accolades at the 2013 United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) Conference held Jan. 10-13 in San Francisco, Calif. The Arts & Entrepreneurship Program won the USASBE 2013 Outstanding Specialty Entrepreneurship Program Award for offering a high quality and innovative program with the purpose of educating future generations of entrepreneurs in a specialty area.

'€œThe significance of this award is the development of collaboration with Millikin'€™s College of Fine Arts and the Tabor School of Business,'€ remarked Sharon Alpi, Director of the Millikin University Center for Entrepreneurship. '€œThe real key is pure collaboration '€“ we are collaborating on common outcomes, common goals, and continuing to foster creativity and innovation by both the faculty and the students.'€

Launched in 2003, Millikin University'€™s Arts & Entrepreneurship Program is a six-credit course sequence providing performance-based learning opportunities for students to practice self-employment. A&E integrates disciplines from the Tabor School of Business and the College of Fine Arts. Students develop, launch, and grow a business. Rather than learn before doing, students are required to learn while doing by first starting a micro-venture in the A&E Program'€™s introductory course. Students then design and execute growth strategies for one of five student-run ventures.

'€œThis truly speaks to the faculty who lead courses and student ventures in the College of Fine Arts,'€ remarked Alpi. '€œWe have a specialty that lifts up our nationally-recognized College of Fine Arts with entrepreneurship. The laboratories of practice are real, live ventures within the Fine Arts disciplines and we provide authentic ownership experiences.'€

In order to be considered for the award, Millikin'€™s Arts & Entrepreneurship Program submitted a self-nomination in October 2012. The A&E Program was then selected as a finalist at which time the program had to submit additional supporting materials. Representatives of the Arts & Entrepreneurship Program presented the supporting materials in front of judges at the USASBE 2013 Conference.

'€œOne of the important things the judges took away from our presentation was the sustainability of the program and the impact,'€ remarked B.J. Warren, Instructor of Entrepreneurship. '€œThis program has been on campus for over 10 years, and while it'€™s evolved based on the needs of our students, it has continued to be an integral part of majors across campus.'€

USASBE is the premiere, professional, entrepreneurship education organization dedicated to advancing the discipline of entrepreneurship. USASBE has over 1,000 members from universities and colleges, for-profit businesses, nonprofit organizations, and the public sector, that share a common commitment to fostering entrepreneurial attitudes and behaviors. Each year USASBE awards the Outstanding Specialty Entrepreneurship Award to a program that demonstrates innovation, quality, comprehensiveness, sustainability, depth of support, and impact. Previous recipients of the award include the University of Portland, Rice University, George Washington University, and Purdue University.

'€œEntrepreneurship is important, it will continue to be important, and it'€™s going to be important to cultivate that attitude of reasoning, thinking and opportunity for any major,'€ remarked Alpi. '€œThe key thing for what we want to do is to create an opportunity for our students to have ownership experience in a real life business.'€