New national ranking shows Miller School jumping six spots

For the fourth year in a row, the Miller School of Entrepreneurship in East Carolina University’s College of Business (COB) made the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine list of Top 50 Undergraduate Schools for Entrepreneurship.

The Miller School, the only named school of entrepreneurship in North Carolina, moved up from 46 to 40 in the rankings. The school also placed in the top 10 for undergraduate programs in the South. According to Dennis Barber III, acting director of the Miller School, the six-spot jump reflects how the Miller School has transitioned from program building to program growth.

East Carolina University students use machines in the Wornom Makerspace in the Isley Innovation Hub to develop prototypes of their entrepreneurial ideas.

East Carolina University students use machines in the Wornom Makerspace in the Isley Innovation Hub to develop prototypes of their entrepreneurial ideas. ECU’s Miller School of Entrepreneurship rose six spots in the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine list of top 50 undergraduate entrepreneurship schools. (ECU photo)

“The Miller School is entering a new phase of growth, and part of that growth is focusing on the assets in place and the key relationships we are building across campus and in the region,” Barber said.

From regional transformation …

Existing and new programs have benefited from the more than $15 million in program investments the Miller School has received since its initial $5 million gift from Fielding ’84 and Kim ’83 Miller. Examples include:

  • A $2 million gift, thanks to Van ’85 and Jennifer Isley, intended for the ECU community to gather, collaborate, ideate and launch ideas, led to the creation of the Isley Innovation Hub, which opened in the fall of 2022.
  • A $1 million gift from Matt Crisp ’93 ’96 led to the creation of the Crisp Small Business Resource Center, which provides programs like Accelerate Rural NC that helps small businesses access global markets through e-commerce strategies.
  • A $500,000 gift from Jim Chesnutt ’63 and David Bond ’78 created a professorship in entrepreneurship that allows the Miller School to attract and retain top academic talent.

The $15 million number could increase soon. ECU alumni Julian “Bubba” Rawl and Kel Normann ’85 are spearheading a $1 million campaign that will go to the naming of the Wornom Makerspace, named in memory of Samuel Joseph Wornom, III ’65, in the Isley Innovation Hub. Once raised, the funds will help equip the space with the tools needed to create prototypes of ideas and assist with the operations and supplies needed for the hub.

… to student success

With programs and curriculum in place, more than 1,000 ECU students have turned to the Miller School to gain their degrees, earn a certificate and launch their ideas. The Miller School pedagogy and the entrepreneurial ecosystem it has helped build on campus has led to 156 student startup businesses.

The Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge, with more than $500,000 in prizes, has helped launch numerous companies since 2018. Another program, RISE29, matches student entrepreneurs with eastern North Carolina communities to begin new startup companies or provide support for business continuity plans.

Partnering with Campbell University, the Crisp Center’s Start Team program allows entrepreneurial students to work with high-growth startup firms, providing them with critical skills gaps, like graphic designers, marketing and engineering. At the same time, the students gain hands-on experience that could be leveraged when they decide to launch their startups.

“The Miller School continues to be a driver in the College of Business for student success and regional transformation,” Interim College of Business Dean Mike Harris said. “Additional investments have expanded the Miller School’s work to have an even greater impact across the campus and region. This mission-driven focus is how you earn a national reputation.”

“What we have in place today is the foundation for what we want to do tomorrow,” Barber said. “I believe we provide the entrepreneurial backbone for ECU and eastern North Carolina. Thanks to the reinforcement from alumni donations, we are in a strong position to help many make their mark in our surrounding communities.”

About the list

Based on a summer 2022 survey The Princeton Review conducted of nearly 300 schools with entrepreneurship offerings, the rankings took into account more than 40 data points about the school programs, faculties, students and alumni.