On May 5, 2016, the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business is set to host the second annual “Rudy Awards.” Named for Dingman’s founder and former Smith School Dean Rudolph “Rudy” Lamone, this annual banquet was created to honor the vibrant network of student and alumni entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and many others who contribute to the center’s continued success.
Lamone founded the Dingman Center in 1986 with a generous grant from donor Michael D. Dingman, Chairman of Shipston Group and Former President of Signal and Allied Signal. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Center. To properly celebrate this landmark in the Center’s history, Mr. Dingman, along with his wife Betsy and his son David, will make a special guest appearance at this year’s awards. Other players in the history of the Dingman Center will also be in attendance, including the Center’s first director Charlie Heller, former Managing Director Asher Epstein, present Managing Director Elana Fine and Dean Alexander Triantis. Fine has asked Mr. Dingman to provide remarks looking back on the Center’s past 30 years.
“Thirty years ago Michael Dingman helped propel the University of Maryland to the forefront of entrepreneurship education,” said Fine. “We are honored that he and his family will join us to celebrate the accomplishments of our entrepreneurs and the legacy of our Center.”
After the opening remarks, the awards ceremony will begin. The aim of the Rudy Awards is, first and foremost, to recognize members of the Dingman Center network who have truly shined in their entrepreneurial spirit and engagement with the Center. While some members play multiple roles, the staff have identified seven distinct categories for awards:
- Student Entrepreneur of the Year
- Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year
- Angel Investor of the Year
- Mentor of the Year
- Faculty Member of the Year
- Social Entrepreneur of the Year
- Research Paper of the Year
After the winners are announced, attendees will be free to network and toast to another year of success for the Dingman Center. This past year contained many highlights that warrant celebration. In January, the Dingman Center welcomed the addition of Associate Director for Social Entrepreneurship, Sara Herald. Formerly a member of the Center for Social Value Creation at Maryland, Herald represents a new aim of the Dingman Center to support students in their desire to create ventures that solve a social problem. In February, the Dingman Center held its biggest Pitch Dingman Competition yet, increasing its grand prize to $15,000 in funding for a total of $30,000 in prizes to Terp entrepreneurs. A few months later, an alum of Dingman’s Terp Startup summer incubator program, Javazen, beat out hundreds of other student startups to take first prize and $75,000 at the national Cupid’s Cup competition.
The future of the Dingman Center is also looking bright. This spring the Center will launch a startup-centric podcast, Bootstrapped, featuring interviews with local entrepreneurs and Maryland alumni. By the summer, the Dingman Center will be transformed into a dynamic incubator in preparation for the eight student companies accepted into the Terp Startup program. Using the Center’s resources and funding, these students will be given the opportunity to focus all their attention into growing their business.
For more information on the Dingman Center, visit www.rhsmith.umd.edu/dingman.
- Megan McPherson, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship