By KIMBERLY CONROY
Rebecca White, professor and director of the entrepreneurship center, was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Entrepreneurship.
The United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) Max J. Wortman Lifetime Achievement Award for Entrepreneurship is presented in recognition of achievement that encompasses the ideals of entrepreneurial activity. The Awards Committee also extends the award to those whose life supports and advocates entrepreneurial ideals. White is the 14th person to receive this honor.
“I’m extremely honored and really excited,” White said. “It feels like it should be the end of your career, but I still have a lot left that I’d like to do.”
White has a long history with USASBE. In 2012, White served as president for the association. In 2014, under her watch, the entrepreneurship program here at UT was named the Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship program in the country by the association. She has also received a 2010 President’s Award for Distinguished Service from USASBE along with a handful of other awards.
“No one is more deserving than Dr. White,” said current president of USASBE Heidi Neck. “Her contributions to entrepreneurial education have defined and are redefining the field.”
She also said how this award was even more meaningful because Jeffrey Timmons, founder of the Babson College program, also won the award. Timmons happened to be White’s mentor.
White started working at UT in 2009. Since joining the university, she has led the development and launch of an M.S. in Entrepreneurship and developed and built academic programs in entrepreneurship education. She was also involved in designing the entrepreneurship curriculum.
“I have known Dr. Rebecca White since 2012,” said James Zebrowski Jr., a student in the graduate entrepreneurship program at UT. “She was unquestionably the most genuine and strategic leader I had met to date. I so greatly look up to her wisdom and leadership.”
Zebrowski currently works full time as the Managing Director for The Global Headquarters of the collegiate entrepreneurs organization.
“She has helped me reach my success both figuratively and literally simply by welcoming me into her life, outpouring wisdom and guidance when I felt crippled or overworked and taught me that passion drives everything and as an entrepreneur, there is no greater gift than following your passion,” Zebrowski said.
One thing White would like to do for UT in the future is to build a bridge between the students at UT to companies in the area.
“I want to help students make connections so they stay here and begin building their own companies,” White said.
Prior to coming to UT, White received an MBA and a doctorate in strategic management, marketing and entrepreneurship from Virginia Tech University. Her primary research and teaching interests are in strategic leadership in equity-backed companies and entrepreneurship education.
“[White’s] work ethic, her ability to connect with entrepreneurship, the community and the best in the entrepreneurship education field, is by far her most amazing talent,” said Kevin Moore, director of operations at the Entrepreneurship center.
Before coming to UT, White worked as the Director at NorthStar Bank located in Tampa and as a professor and director of the Institute for New Economy Technologies at Northern Kentucky University. There, she built a top 25 nationally ranked entrepreneurship program.
White was named the Tampa Bay Business Journal Business Woman of the Year in 2010 in the Education Category. She also founded and directed the Women’s Entrepreneurship Institute, an educational program for female entrepreneurs.
Currently, White is on the board at NorthStar Bank, the board of Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers, and is focused on building the education programs here at UT for entrepreneurship majors.
“I’m still trying to figure that out,” White said, speaking about her next goal. “I love what I’m doing, so I’m living in the moment. There’s a satisfaction of creating and building something of value that makes life better for people.”
Kimberly Conroy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org