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UMemphis Crews Center exec search runs, Hoffmeyer settles at UMaryland
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Mike Meyerhoff

CREWS CENTER for Entrepreneurship at the University of Memphis continues working to select a successor to former Crews Director Mike Hoffmeyer, who held the role for nearly a decade before departing last spring.

Crews Center Interim Director Dawn Kimble and others confirmed that the window for additional applicants for the post closed earlier this month, but could not yet provide an estimated timeframe for the hiring.

Eventually, the new Crews Center leader will report to Fogelman College of Business & Economics Dean Bobby Garrett PhD MBA, who took up his own post just four months ago, in August, after serving nine years at the University of Louisville. At UofL he was Brown & Williamson Professor of Entrepreneurship and director of the Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship, among other duties. More on Garrett here.

Shortly after his arrival, Garrett appeared with University of Memphis President Bill Hardgrave PhD MBA in a brief streaming-video Q&A, during which Garrett said his near-term priorities included managing Fogelman College building modernization, growing Fogelman's graduate program, and establishing the school's leadership in Supply Chain management, a field in which he said UM-Fogelman "should be leading the way."

During a Nov. 20 interview, 52-year-old Hoffmeyer told Venture Nashville that it was nearly eight months ago that he began work as managing director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland, College Park. Hoffmeyer's LinkedIn is here.

Hoffmeyer explained that during a roughly two-year period of the COVID pandemic, he found himself reflecting on career priorities as he approached the decade mark at Crews Center.

He explained that he accepted the fact that he's a "builder," preferring more dynamic challenges to more static routines.

He easily found evidence of strong institutional demand for experienced entrepreneurship center leaders, and began sorting potential opportunities. Testing the market, he drew substantial interest from multiple postsecondary institutions.

Hoffmeyer said that after being born into a U.S. Navy Family then stationed at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, he had subsequently spent most of his life in Memphis and his immediate family has been nicely settled there, with his wife's parents in Memphis and his parents not far away in Jonesboro, Ark.

However, after receiving the Maryland career offer, he and his wife -- who are the parents of four, ages 19-34, two of whom are UMemphis alumni -- felt confident with the notion of a transition to Maryland.

Hoffmeyer said he treasures his experience at Crews and remains an alumni member the board of the Crews Center.

He said he feels the Crews Center has established its foundation, but -- as on most campuses -- it will need more resources to scale further and to convert educated students into innovators and entrepreneurs who can tap into expanded sources of early-stage capital and achieve economic impact.

He added that he believes he and the University have positioned the program for further advancement, contingent on adequate funding.

We then turned to discussion about Dingman Center programs, initiatives and resources.

Hoffmeyer began by noting that the UMaryland undergraduate entrepreneurship profile ranks 5th in the nation and graduate entrepreneurial education ranks 13th nationally, according to the latest calculations by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine.

Next, he noted that commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) objectives remains crucially important to him, and that led him to scrutinize prospective employers' related initiatives.

He said he found that the commitment to equity seems to permeate UMaryland and it has the resources to maintain needed momentum.

At that point, he noted that whereas Crews Center has 3 FTE worker roles funded, Dingman Center's staffing of 6 FTE affords him more capacity for innovation around under-developed opportunities.

He also emphasized that UMaryland, College Park has valuable ties to other components of University of Maryland System, which translates into robust technology commercialization programs; and, multiple pools of expertise in law, medicine, computing and other domains -- all situated in the advanced mid-Atlantic economy.

He explained that, whereas increased availability of private Seed capital aligned with Crews Center objectives did not materialize at UMemphis during his tenure, the Dingman Center is augmented by an extraordinary network of resources.

Qualified Maryland students can apply to participating in Dingman Center Angels initiatives and programs conducted in concert with regional angel groups and syndicates; may pursue Seed funding via the Terp Startup Accelerator and-or non-dilutive E-Fund grants; and, may compete for a share of the annual prize pot in the Pitch Dingman Competition. Programs' sponsors include financial and professional-services firms.

In addition, he notes that funds and related programs aligned with UMaryland include the Chesapeake Bay Fund, the Maryland Momentum Fund, the Discovery Fund, Mtech Ventures, Maryland Energy Innovation Accelerator (MEIA), Quantum Startup Foundry, and other initiatives.

Today, especially, said Hoffmeyer, educational institutions must continually raise the bar with respect to supporting students, faculty, administrators and alumni entrepreneurs as they work to stimulate, protect and commercialize research and innovation, while simultaneously acquiring entrepreneurial understanding and skills, and learning to make strong evidence-based cases to investors.

Progress on those fronts will drive economic development, generate household wealth, and show more communities that entrepreneurship is a fruitful career path, he concluded. VNC

. last edited 0911 30 November 2023

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Tags: Bill Hardgrave, Bobby Garrett, Crews Center for Entrepreneurship, Mike Hoffmeyer, University of Maryland, University of Memphis

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