In 1995, the William T. and Rita Fitzgerald Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies was created by The University’s Board of Trustees on the basis of a plan developed by the faculty, administrators, Advancement Council, Alumni Board, and by William T. and Rita W. Fitzgerald who provided an essential and much appreciated commitment for an endowment. Academic programming began in 1996. The entrepreneurship program is open to all students at the University and everyone in the community. Over 1,000 students have taken entrepreneurship courses since the inception of programming. The program emphasizes the study and development of analytical and conceptual skills in the creation and management of new enterprises and new ventures within large organizations. The skills students acquire in the program can also be used in buying a small business or franchise, growing an existing small business or family business, in corporate entrepreneurship and in a non-profit organization. The Institute emphasizes “experiential learning” through cooperation between industry, government, and academia in the pursuit of economic development for Northeast Ohio, the United States and the international community. The entrepreneurship program has an Advisory Board of 42 members who have volunteered their valuable time to enhance entrepreneurship at The University of Akron and throughout the region.
The vision of the Fitzgerald Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies is to promote entrepreneurship throughout the university, community, region, U.S. and the world through the dissemination of practical “experiential” and theoretical knowledge, which will benefit society as a whole.