The Standish Professorship in Entrepreneurship

Pictured above: J. Spencer Standish and Patricia Standish

The Standish Professorship in Entrepreneurship now has a professor. Bill Wales Ph.D., currently at James Madison University, will fulfill the role in the fall. Wales earned a B.S. in Information Technology, an M.S. in Industrial and Management Engineering and a Ph.D. in Management, all granted by Rensselaer.

Dean Donald Siegel said, “We are very excited that he accepted. The position is going to someone from the region who is an expert and who can help us enhance student entrepreneurship on campus and in the region. Bill is the ideal person for this professorship.”

In the fall, local philanthropists J. Spencer Standish, chairman emeritus at Albany International and Patricia Standish, a retired college lecturer, provided $1.5 million to create this professorship. The J. Spencer and Patricia Standish Living Room was previously named in their honor.

Dr. Siegel notes that the creation of a professorship in entrepreneurship signifies the importance of the field to the School of Business. The school offers tracks at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Dr. Wales will teach both groups.

Wales, who grew up in South Colonie, is thrilled to be returning to the Capital Region. He said, “It is really my home. I have a great deal of love for the Albany area.” He appreciates the energy of the state capital, “It is a great place for entrepreneurship with access to tremendous research universities in the area, a Small Business Development Center, tech meet-ups and other opportunities for networking.”

One concept Wales plans to bring to the School of Business is a hands-on class in entrepreneurship, which he created and offered when he was a visiting professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at Skidmore College, and continued at James Madison, where it is among the most popular electives. Wales was awarded the Kenneth Bartee Endowed Teaching Innovation Award at JMU in 2012 for his efforts related to the development of an experiential approach to entrepreneurship education.

His classroom approach spends less time on creating a business plan and more time doing. He said, “Deeper, richer learning occurs when one is tasked with attempting to start and run a new business. Entrepreneurship is about problem-solving. Entrepreneurs care about building new solutions to problems they encounter. They don’t want to be in a lecture hall. They are creators. They are competitive. They rise to a challenge.” All profits from venturing efforts are donated to charity.

Out of the classroom, Wales is a productive researcher with articles appearing in top journals such as Strategic Management Journal and the Journal of Management Studies. His research focuses on corporate entrepreneurship, particularly identifying where organizations fall on the entrepreneurship continuum in terms of their innovativeness, risk-taking and proactivity.

The Standish gift combines with a SUNY 20/20 grant to create this professorship and two others, including a position in life sciences entrepreneurship assisting scientists in facilitating specialized collaborations. It will be based in the management department in conjunction with the RNA Institute in the College of Arts and Sciences at UAlbany.