Produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications
Entrepreneurship Pioneer Founded and Remained Highly Active at Dingman Center
Photo by Tony Richards
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.
“Rudy,” as he was known to all, served from 1973-92 as dean of the Smith School and as the first chair of its entrepreneurship program. He was also founder of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, which is nationally recognized as an incubator of opportunities for nascent businesses.
“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,” said Dean Prabhudev C. Konana. “He leaves a legacy of mentorship and creativity that will continue to influence the school for years to come.”
“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,” said UMD President Darryll J. Pines.
Lamone established the Dingman Center, one of the first entrepreneurship centers at a business school, 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.
Lamone was co-founder of the National Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers and a founding member of the National Consortium for Life Science Entrepreneurship Programs. He also co-founded the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers, which 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. In 20222, UMD’s undergraduate programs ranked No. 7 across all institutions and No. 4 among public universities, according to 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.”
Added David Quattrone, chairman of the Dingman Center Board of Advisors: “We are privileged to continue the important work he cared about so much, impacting students through the Dingman Center and the Smith School.”
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.”
A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Lamone received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the business school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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 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 continues through the success of his students as well as 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 received 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.
Those with memories of Lamone or the Dingman Center impact are invited to share them on this website, which will be compiled and given to his family.
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