Carroll Raising Milwaukee Profile with Grad Entrepreneurship Program

Carroll University, Wisconsin’s oldest four-year higher education institution, is attempting to raise its profile in the Milwaukee startup community with a new graduate program in entrepreneurship taught by successful local entrepreneurs.

The $13,500 intensive, 15-credit, four-month “boot camp” will accept 24 students for its inaugural program in the fall. The 168-year-old Carroll is located west of Milwaukee in Waukesha, WI, but the program will be housed in The Water Council’s Global Water Center near downtown Milwaukee.

Organizers said it’s one of only a few such programs nationwide that are taught by seasoned entrepreneurs emphasizing case studies and hands-on projects, rather than textbooks. Similar programs include Acton in Austin, TX.

Carroll’s program is the brainchild of Tim Keane, an entrepreneur (and Xconomist) who sold his Web analytics company Retail Target Marketing Systems in 2000, has taught entrepreneurship courses at Marquette University since 2001, and founded Golden Angels Investors in 2002. Keane will no longer teach courses at Marquette after the spring semester, and he will be one of six instructors for Carroll’s new program, he said.

The program came together quickly after talks began in October, organizers said.

Program organizers held a launch event Thursday night in the Milwaukee home of entrepreneur Andy Nunemaker, the founder and CEO of healthcare software startup Dynamis Software and one of the Carroll program instructors. More than 200 people registered for the event, which featured an appearance by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and brought together many of the area’s top entrepreneurs and investors.

“I want entrepreneurs to come to the city of Milwaukee,” Barrett told attendees, speaking into a microphone in the first-floor study of Nunemaker’s beautiful 11,000-square-foot home built in 1905. “I want you to try your ideas. I want you to flourish.”

Carroll program participants will learn from some local heavy-hitters who have amassed hundreds of millions of dollars in exit values between them. In addition to Keane and Nunemaker, the program faculty include Laura King, whose career includes high-level management positions with General Electric and serving as president and CEO of Madison, WI-based medical device firm NeuWave Medical; Paul Schueller, founder and CEO of consulting firm Franklin Energy Services, based in Port Washington, WI; Chicago serial entrepreneur Daniel Weinfurter; and Chicago serial entrepreneur and investor Bob Zieserl.

The program is aimed at entrepreneurs currently working on startups as well as adults with full-time jobs who are contemplating making the leap to forming their own company, Keane said. At the end of the four months, students will earn a graduate certificate in entrepreneurship.

“But what they really come out of it with is a much higher … self-reliance and ability to make entrepreneurial decisions that allow them to shape their destinies,” Keane told Xconomy.

Keane said he approached Carroll about the program because the university intends to impact entrepreneurship in southeastern Wisconsin, and he found the university to be a “forward-looking institution that was willing to get behind” the idea.

Carroll has an undergraduate entrepreneurship program, but this new offering marks the first graduate-level entrepreneurship program for the university. The school saw it as an opportunity to “touch a new market” in Milwaukee and boost Carroll’s visibility, provost Joanne Passaro said.

“We’re in the stage of our history where we’re looking to grow our graduate programs and have a bigger impact on the community,” Passaro told Xconomy. “Carroll is the oldest (four-year school) in Wisconsin, and it’s not known as much as it should be.”

Carroll is investing in its business programs, Passaro said. It added an MBA program four years ago and recently created an executive-in-residence program.

Other local universities have also been investing in their entrepreneurship programs in recent years, including University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which created a Student Startup Challenge and an “App Brewery” that allows students to build mobile applications for outside customers.

Jeff Bauter Engel is Deputy Editor, Tech at Xconomy. Email: Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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