January 31, 2023

Smith School Mourns Passing of Former Dean Rudolph P. Lamone, 1931-2023

Rudy Lamone

Rudolph P. Lamone, professor emeritus of management science, former dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business and pioneer in the realm of entrepreneurship, passed away on Jan. 30, 2023.

From 1973 to 1992, Lamone served as the dean of the Smith School and as the first-ever chair of the program in entrepreneurship. He was founder of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, co-founder of the National Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers and a founding member of the National Consortium for Life Science Entrepreneurship Programs. He was recently notified that he will be inducted into the Smith School's inaugural Hall of Fame. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Lamone received his BS and PhD degrees from the business school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Rudy,” as he was known to all, had a deep and far-reaching impact on the Smith School. 

“Dean Lamone was a remarkable innovator who brought entrepreneurship to the forefront of business education, and made it possible for Smith students to experience venture creation,” says Dean Prabhudev C. Konana. “He leaves a legacy of mentorship and creativity that will continue to influence the school for years to come.”

Japanese entrepreneur Soji Kanazawa came to visit the center in 1990 and was so impressed that he donated $300,000 to fund student exchange trips to Japan and around the world. He then founded an entrepreneurship school in Japan.

“We are forever grateful for Dr. Lamone’s contributions to establishing a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within the Smith School that has grown into a thriving and vibrant ecosystem in every school and college across our campus. His legacy, including the Dingman Center, will last for generations,” says President Darryll J. Pines.

Lamone established the Dingman Center, one of the first entrepreneurship centers at a business school and nationally recognized as an incubator of opportunities for nascent businesses, with a gift from founding donor Michael Dingman in 1986. He remained deeply involved in its work until his passing. The center helps launch about 50-100 ventures every year, resulting in thousands of new ventures since it was first established. Through Dingman Center Angels (DCA), the center was the first of its kind to bring regional startup companies seeking early-stage funding to the angel investing community. DCA is the largest university-run angel investor network in the country. 

Dingman Center staff, circa 1999. Bob Baum, PhD ’94, front left, was the first full-time faculty member at the Smith School focused solely on entrepreneurship. A serial entrepreneur with six companies under his belt, Baum lived on his boat in Annapolis while pursuing his PhD. “It was better than Maryland student housing,” Baum remembers.

Lamone co-founded an organization of academic entrepreneurship centers that allows faculty to share ideas and best practices. The Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) today includes more than 200 universities and colleges worldwide. The Dingman Center was among the first of five centers chosen to receive the Nasdaq Award for a center of excellence in entrepreneurship from the GCEC.

The Dingman Center’s work also contributes to the university’s reputation for excellence in entrepreneurship education. UMD’s undergraduate programs ranked No. 7 across all institutions, and No. 4 among public universities, in 2022 rankings released by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine.

“Rudy was an incredible role model who never stopped working to impact student lives through entrepreneurship, and worked tirelessly to support the Dingman Center and the Smith School,” says Brent Goldfarb, Dean’s Professor of Entrepreneurship and academic director of the Dingman Center. “Rudy was effective because he celebrated everybody’s talents. He was such a great human being. Any interaction with Rudy was a privilege. I hope his inspiration will live on in all of us.”

"Rudy Lamone will have a lasting legacy as a pioneer and visionary. We are privileged to continue the important work he cared about so much, impacting students through the Dingman Center and the Smith School" says David Quattrone, Board Chairman, Dingman Center Board of Advisors.

We are forever grateful for Dr. Lamone’s contributions to establishing a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within the Smith School that has grown into a thriving and vibrant ecosystem in every school and college across our campus. His legacy, including the Dingman Center, will last for generations.

President Darryll J. Pines

An entrepreneur himself, Lamone co-founded DirectGene, a biotechnology company that has developed gene therapies directed toward the treatment of metastatic prostate and breast cancers. He was a venture partner with Gabriel Venture Partners in Annapolis, Md., and Redwood Shores, Calif. In 1996, Lamone was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst & Young for his work in support of entrepreneurship.

Lamone was deeply invested in the success of his students. Many of “my kids,” as he called them, went on to extraordinary careers.

“The biggest pleasure in my life has been being around high-energy students who want to be entrepreneurs,” Lamone told Smith Business magazine. “I love all my students, but the entrepreneurship students are very special to me. They’re a very different breed, and every year I get a whole new crop. Even now that I’m retired, somehow they find me. That’s my real joy, seeing some kids that I’ve mentored, create something.”

Lamone was also a gifted saxophone player. He toured for four years with a succession of big bands and eventually the Rudy Lamone Band, which provided backup for major acts, and then spent three years in the Army at Fort Bragg in the 440th Army Band.

Lamone’s legacy will always be remembered through the success of his students and through the Rudolph P. and Linda H. Lamone Endowed Chair for Entrepreneurial Leadership, established with his wife Linda Lamone; the Rudolph P. Lamone Chair for Entrepreneurial Leadership, established by Leo Van Munching ’50 and Peggy Van Munching; and the Rudolph P. Lamone Fund for Excellence in Entrepreneurship, funded by friends and colleagues to help support new and innovative programs, student summer internships, lecture programs and other activities that enhance the educational experience of students.

In 1998, he was selected to receive the President’s Medal at the University of Maryland. The Smith School’s dining facility, Rudy's Cafe, was also named for him. He is recognized annually in the Dingman Center’s Rudy Awards, and was recently notified of his induction into the Smith School’s inaugural Hall of Fame.

We invite you to share memories of Rudy or stories of Dingman Center impact on this website, which we will compile and give to his family.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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