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KNOXVILLE — Imagine being paid to start a business while getting an MBA. That is the concept behind the full-time MBA Entrepreneur Fellow program in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Business Administration.

The MBA Entrepreneur Fellow program is in its inaugural year; it is the only program of its kind in the country.

“The goal of the Entrepreneur Fellow program is to recruit the best and brightest MBA students who have an entrepreneurial drive and will work on early-stage, technology-enabled businesses while completing their degrees,” said Tom Graves, director of operations for UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. “Through coursework, applied-learning experiences, faculty collaboration and mentorship, aspiring student entrepreneurs develop the skills and connections they need to successfully launch their new ventures.”

UT MBA Fellows gain entrepreneurial skills while enrolled in the program and get funding to pay for their education which allows them time to develop their businesses. This greatly enhances each fellow’s return on investment.

The inaugural recipients will graduate with the MBA Class of 2011; they are Paul Haymore from Marietta, Ga., and Matt Parton and Brian Mohney from Knoxville.

“The Entrepreneur Fellow program offers what every entrepreneur hopes for: an opportunity to bring a business to life,” said Mohney. “As an entrepreneur from an entrepreneurial family, my being awarded this opportunity is a dream come true. The program will open doors that most business owners never will experience. It will give me the opportunity to turn my dream business into a reality. I am proud to be one of the fellows’ inaugural members.”

Each fellow receives a $30,000 scholarship — $10,000 for each of the program’s three semesters. Satisfactory progress toward launching or growing their business idea is required to continue receiving funding.

“As an aspiring entrepreneur, this program is ideal for me,” said Parton. “The ability to work closely with experienced faculty in developing my business venture, coupled with the university’s history of cultivating and keeping strong relationships with successful local entrepreneurs, were the reasons I decided to attend UT over other top-ranked MBA programs. Being in this program will advance me on my entrepreneurial path by years, if not decades.”

The benefits of being an Entrepreneur Fellow include:

  • Being able to earn a degree while increasing chances of launching a successful entrepreneurial career
  • Having unprecedented access to experienced faculty and entrepreneur mentors
  • Being able to offset many of the costs associated with the MBA program
  • Being able to come to UT for a degree and leave with a business

“The Entrepreneur Fellow program makes an MBA degree possible for some of the country’s best and brightest young entrepreneurs,” said Amy Cathey, executive director of UT’s full-time MBA program. “Starting businesses in this region is good for our community, university, college, program and students. We hope to grow the number of MBA fellow scholarships available so that even more students can take advantage of these opportunities in the future.”

Funds for the first three Entrepreneur Fellow recipients were made possible through the generosity of entrepreneurs Bob and Phylis Baron and Wayne Basler. Baron is CEO of Baron Services Inc., and Basler is president of AFG Industries.

“Phylis and I are pleased to support this program,” said Baron. “We strongly believe that the entrepreneurial spirit is what built and is growing this country, and we are committed to assisting in the university‚Äôs efforts.”

For more information about the UT Knoxville College of Business Administration, visit


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