By NEYA THOMAS
As a young girl, Dr. Dianne H.B. Welsh was exposed to the spirit of entrepreneurship, finding her passion within her family’s sporting goods business. Since then, she has owned three businesses of her own and become a recognized scholar with eight books, 130 journal articles, and more than 350 presentations and proceedings – her official title being the UNC Greensboro Bryan School of Business and Economics’ Hayes Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship. And she can add yet another feather to her cap, as she was recently honored with the Max S. Wortman, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award for Entrepreneurship.
While pursuing her master’s at Emporia (KS) State University, she was given the option to complete a thesis or extra coursework. Welsh was unsure of which path to choose, so her professor gave her a list of colleagues to contact and ask questions. While the first colleague didn’t answer, the second, Max S. Wortman, Jr. did. He put her in contact with Fred Luthans, who would become her dissertation chair at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She was also introduced to and given an internship by the department chair, Dr. Sang Lee, an expert in Decision Sciences.
In 2004, at the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) summer board retreat, Welsh initiated and advocated for the creation of the Max S. Wortman, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award for Entrepreneurship. The award is USASBE’s highest individual honor, recognizing an individual or organization for a career spent consistently and enthusiastically pursuing the highest of entrepreneurial ideals. While Welsh has more than 115 awards and honors, including three other lifetime achievement awards, winning the Wortman award is a career highlight.
“Dianne has been a prolific researcher, educator, and program builder for our discipline,” said Jill Kickul, professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, who presented the award to Welsh. “The range of courses she has taught both locally in her community as well as internationally is astounding.”
At UNCG, Welsh has become the Founding Director of the award-winning Cross-Disciplinary Entrepreneurship program and the North Carolina Entrepreneurship Center. Before joining UNCG, she founded the Southern Entrepreneurship in the Arts Conferences at the University of Tampa, which she brought to Greensboro. Welsh was attracted to UNCG because the institution expressed an interest in creating a cross-disciplinary program and that was something she hadn’t done yet.
Welsh has served others throughout her career. She has served as a Presidential Appointee to the U.S. Air Force Academy Board of Visitors as well as the Defense Advisory Board for Women in the Services. Welsh has also served as the President of USASBE and the Small Business Institute, Chair of the Technology and Innovation Management Division of the Academy of Management, and a longtime advisory board member of the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers. She is a Fellow in USASBE, SBI, the Family Firm Institute, and the Pan-Pacific Business Association.
Welsh’s career is a testament to her consistent pursuit of entrepreneurial ideals via academic study, pedagogy, and venture creation. She believes entrepreneurship is the key to freedom and that freedom can lead to world peace.
“I think that I’ve been an example of mentoring, encouragement, and innovation to entrepreneurship programs as well as individuals that they can do it. At universities around the world, as well as with my students,” she said. “Entrepreneurship means to be creative, and innovative in all you do that creates value.”