Entrepreneurial education: As it commemorates 50 years, Rowan’s Rohrer College of Business is making mark teaching entrepreneurship

Rowan Rohrer

There’s no age too old to be an entrepreneur — or to become a top school for entrepreneurship.

As Rowan University’s William G. Rohrer College of Business commemorates its 50th anniversary this year with a host of events, its dean of the past seven years is looking to highlight what a destination for entrepreneurs it has evolved into.

Sue Lehrman said that, since its founding in 1972 as the Department of Administrative Studies at Glassboro State College, the South Jersey institution has become a nationally recognized leader in that area. Lehrman alluded to its 2021 placement as a Top 50 undergraduate entrepreneurship program by the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine.

“That was quite a feat, and we expect to hear some ranking information soon for the year that follows, as well,” she said. “We’ve put a stake in the ground in regards to entrepreneurship. A lot of schools focus on that area and have those programs, but we’ve really excelled in that area.”

The college’s entrepreneurship minor has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years, Lehrman said. Beyond that, Rowan is host to four of what it refers to as centers of excellence, focusing on the areas of experiential learning, innovation and entrepreneurship, professional development and responsible leadership.

“We’re really focusing resources in this area,” Lehrman said. “We’ve brought in individuals well-known in the community and business leaders to work hand-in-glove to engage the students. And these resources are open to all of the students across the campus.”

As the business school reaches its 50-year anniversary, it’s also marking the occasion with a series of special events. One, a conference exploring the concept of environmental, social and governance, is being conducted in partnership with the business school’s Center for Responsible Leadership.

The main event in the yearlong commemoration of the half-century milestone will take place next year, in April. It will be held in the school’s $63.2 million Business Hall, which was opened five years ago.

“It’s a beautiful space where we have really brought together some absolutely top-flight faculty in the entrepreneurship area,” she said.

At the same time, Lehrman said the surrounding community is supporting the anniversary celebrations, with companies offering 50 externships for students and other thematic opportunities.

Lehrman said that, after the festivities are finished, the William G. Rohrer College of Business will continue making a name for itself as a regional leader in entrepreneurial thinking.

“We want to do more and get more people engaged,” she said. “It’s about going higher, bigger and better.”

No. 1 goal

Dean Sue Lehrman said that, when Rowan University’s William G. Rohrer College of Business was encouraged to look at the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and select one of the 17 outlined goals to “call their own,” there was one that literally topped the list: Goal No. 1, or the elimination of poverty.

That international call to action served partly as inspiration for the creation of its Accelerate South Jersey initiative this fall. It’s an entrepreneur program meant for aspiring business owners in Camden and Gloucester counties who might be facing economic hardships.

The 12-month program, which just got underway in September, is offered in partnership with the McKenna Center for Human Development and Global Business at the University of Notre Dame. Other local nonprofits, universities and small businesses in South Jersey have partnered on the program as well.

Lehrman said it’s offering extensive support and hands-on mentorship to help locals launch and grow successful ventures.

“It’s a win for students, entrepreneurs and for Camden,” she added. “The long-run goal is to be part of the transformation of Camden.”