Haslam College of Business Debuts Innovative Franchise Certificate Program

January 4, 2023

The Haslam College of Business and Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will welcome the inaugural class for a brand-new offering in 2023: the Franchise Certificate Program. The university continues to strive toward the strategic initiative of building a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem across Tennessee and the region, with franchising being a foundational part of that ecosystem.

Lynn Youngs, executive director of the ACEI, said the first priority of the Franchise Certificate Program is to provide entrepreneurial options for potential future business owners. “We are not only aiming to educate, but also to make a difference in the community by creating jobs, supporting the next generation of small business owners with a sound basis for entering the entrepreneurial marketplace, and providing innovative strategies for successful business practices,” Youngs said. 

The Franchise Certificate Program provides entrepreneurs who want to balance the freedom of working for themselves with the support, training and name recognition of an existing brand by learning many facets of franchising. Students considering a career with a franchisor or simply those who desire deeper franchise knowledge can benefit from the comprehensive curriculum, which will include:

  • Knowledge of the franchising industry to determine if franchising is a viable business/career option
  • Best practices for operating a franchise business
  • Insight from franchise industry professionals
  • Networking with other students interested in franchising

Shelly Sun (HCB, ’92), founder and CEO of BrightStar Care and program donor, said franchising provides an opportunity for entrepreneurship with support. “More and more people are turning to franchising as a means to entrepreneurship where they are in business for themselves, not by themselves,” Sun said. “That could mean working for a franchisor to support franchisees or becoming a franchisee themselves.” Sun founded BrightStar Care in 2002 and began franchising in 2005, which, she says, gave her a path to the success that all entrepreneurs should enjoy. “Through this new program, we will teach students the fundamentals of franchising and provide them with knowledge that will support whatever career path they ultimately choose,” she said.

BrightStar Care, a home healthcare franchise dedicated to providing both medical and non-medical assistance for families and individuals in need, has grown to more than 365 locations represented by 200 small businesses and reached $639 million in revenue in 2021. BrightStar Care is consistently named in Forbes’ Top Ten Franchises under $150,000 initial investment.

To help build the Franchise Certificate Program, Cordell Riley, a franchising expert with nearly 30 years of experience, aims to build the program out in the coming years.

“Over the next decade we will help to create entrepreneurs that will make a difference in our communities and leverage the ever-so-important entrepreneurial spirit we have as Americans,” said Riley, program faculty member.

An advisory board consisting of franchisors, franchisees, franchise vendors and other entrepreneurial representatives including Shelly Sun, Lynn Youngs, Tom Wood, Tamra Kennedy, Sherri Fishman and Cordell Riley will advise on the development of program content to ensure the franchise industry and the program work collaboratively to deliver the most knowledgeable future entrepreneurs in the country.

For more information about the Franchise Certificate Program, please visit https://haslam.utk.edu/executive-course/leadership-strategy/franchise-certificate-program/.

About the Haslam College of Business

The Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, founded in 1914, consists of approximately 8,500 undergraduate and graduate students. Its seven departments, eight centers and institutes, four forums and graduate and executive education programs reach across the for profit, not-for-profit and governmental sectors of business, with a heavy emphasis on practical research. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, was founded in 1794 and was designated Tennessee’s land-grant institution in 1879. For more information on the Haslam College of Business please visit haslam.utk.edu. To find out more about UT, visit utk.edu. 

About the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation 

The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI) is a university-based resource for entrepreneurship across the region and the state of Tennessee. Its mission is to foster an entrepreneurial culture at UT and across the state by developing student skills, providing experiential learning opportunities, conducting meaningful entrepreneurial research and connecting students with mentors and resources that enable them to successfully start and grow new businesses.


Sherri Fishman, sfish@fishmanpr.com