Like the entrepreneurial spirit it is dedicated to instilling in students, Florida State University’s Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship is launching new programs and expanding staff on its mission to train the next generation of successful business innovators.
Less than two years after starting with an inaugural class of 80 students, about 500 students are taking entrepreneurship classes. Another 200 freshmen and sophomores are enrolled as majors but have not entered upper-level entrepreneurship courses.
In addition, the Jim Moran School expanded staff from seven to nearly 20 faculty members and added a major. Today, the school offers three entrepreneurship majors: commercial, social and retail — the newest program, which began in fall 2018. Another six minors are open to students across campus.
Susan Fiorito, director and entrepreneur-in-residence, helped build the school based on a vision of entrepreneurial education from automotive pioneer Jim Moran. His wife, Jan, and The Jim Moran Foundation presented FSU with a record $100 million gift in December 2015 to create the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship, the nation’s first stand-alone entrepreneurship school at a public university, and significantly expand the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship.
Fiorito is excited about the program’s strong growth.
“The Jim Moran School has moved forward quite a bit since classes started in fall 2017,” Fiorito said. “We brought in the Department of Retail Merchandising and Product Development from the College of Human Sciences, which added about 250 undergraduate students to our program, and now we’re planning to create two new graduate programs.”
The first master’s-level program, Textiles and Apparel Entrepreneurship, will launch this fall. It will train students in quality assurance and quality analysis, a rapidly growing field that’s seeing a big increase in demand for workers with that degree.
The Textiles and Apparel Entrepreneurship master’s degree will require 30 credit hours that can be completed in one year by taking classes in fall, spring and summer. The program will offer valuable international educational experiences at FSU’s study center in Florence, Italy, focusing on textiles. That region of Tuscany is renowned for its leather goods and artisanal products produced for internationally famous brands, such as Gucci and Armani.
Starting in fall 2020, the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship will partner with the FSU Dedman School of Hospitality to offer a one-year master’s program in hospitality and entrepreneurship. Those students will spend one month at FSU’s study center in the Republic of Panama to learn about supply-chain logistics.
“It’s a perfect location for that kind of study because of the Panama Canal,” Fiorito said. “Those students will travel to Florence, Italy, to focus on entrepreneurship in industries like textiles and vineyards. In the summer, they’ll head to FSU’s study center in Valencia, Spain, to finish up. So, our students in hospitality and entrepreneurship will have a very international perspective when they graduate with a master’s degree.”
The Jim Moran School is also celebrating its growth on campus. All faculty members have moved into a 12,000-square-foot space in the renovated Shaw Building near Strozier Library. The facility is equipped with a fabric-printing lab for retail entrepreneurship, as well as a body-scanning lab that uses lasers to measure 68 locations on the body. That level of precision allows designers to tailor garments in various ways to achieve any kind of look.
Throughout the Shaw Building, walls are inscribed with inspiring quotes by famous entrepreneurs such as this one by LinkedIn Executive Chairman Reid Hoffman, who said, “An entrepreneur is someone who will jump off a cliff and assemble a plane on the way down.”
Fiorito, who earned a doctorate in merchandising from Oklahoma State University, taught in FSU’s merchandising program for 23 years before diving into the challenge of starting up a new entrepreneurship program. Along the way, she assembled a school like no other in the United States.
“Building the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship has been a dream come true for me,” Fiorito said. “We have the beautiful downtown Jim Moran Building that offers special networking opportunities and more space for collaborations. The Shaw Building is great for students and faculty because it brings everyone together as a team, and we want to create a warm, friendly and open environment that nurtures creative thinking.”