Dr. Mike Menefee can be forgiven if he is experiencing déjà vu this fall.
The new Thomas Family Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke was the University’s William H. Belk Distinguished Professor from 1990-94.
Dr. Menefee returns to UNCP from a distinguished 13-year career at Purdue University where he was an Allen C. Peterson Faculty Fellow and a Burton D. Morgan Fellow at the Center for Entrepreneurship in the university’s Discovery Park.
At UNCP, Dr. Menefee will lead several entrepreneurship programs. That too will be a familiar role because in the early 1990s, he played a role in the birth of UNCP’s Regional Center for Economic, Community and Professional Development.
Dr. Menefee will help start-up the Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship. He will also help plan new undergraduate programs in entrepreneurship.
Dr. Eric Dent, dean of the School of Business, is pleased to have Dr. Menefee at the Center and on his faculty.
“Mike Menefee is the perfect person to fill this important role for the University and region,” Dr. Dent said. “He is a top-notch scholar with tremendous expertise in entrepreneurship.
“He is also very familiar with our region and already has a network of connections that will accelerate what the Thomas Center can do to help organizations in the region,” he said.
“It’s good to be back at a place where there are so many good people, and I have so many good relationships,” Dr. Menefee said in an interview from his office at COMtech. COMtech, a business incubator in Robeson County, is also the location of UNCP’s Regional Center and the biotechnology research and training facility, which will break ground this fall.
“Returning to UNCP to teach, research and work in entrepreneurship is an opportunity to do here what I did successfully at Purdue,” he said. “I’m very excited about the mission of the Thomas Entrepreneurship Center.
Dr. Menefee started and directed the Purdue entrepreneurship program, located at the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship at Discover Park, which quickly grew to include more than 700 students. He also directed the Public Policy Institute as a Kettering Fellow.
Awarded professor emeritus status, Dr. Menefee won several awards, including the 2007 Thomson-South-Western Outstanding Educator Award, the 2007 Federation of Business Disciplines Educator of the Year Award and the 2007 Southwest Case Research Outstanding Educator.
He has an outstanding record of scholarship also. Dr. Menefee is co-author of “Human Behavior in Organizations,” which is going into its second printing.
Over the years, he collaborated with several UNCP business professors on articles that were published in business journals over the past several years.
“I have co-authored a number of articles with Dr. John Parnell, the current William H. Belk Distinguished Professor, and Dr. Rick Crandall, Dr. Ed Powers and Dr. Christopher Ziemnowicz, and we plan more joint projects,” Dr. Menefee said. “I am looking forward to working with the faculty.”
Dr. Menefee said he is pleased to see UNCP’s growing enrollment.
“A lot of good things are happening at UNCP,” he said. “This University is a well-kept secret that people are just beginning to discover.
“UNCP has so much to offer in terms of small classes, great faculty and diversity,” Dr. Menefee added. “This is a University on the move today with potential for more growth and development opportunities for the region.”
Dr. Menefee is familiar with the region’s economy having performed development work in several municipalities and counties.
“This University has helped the region in many ways and is in a position to do even more with programs in entrepreneurship,” he said. “While the University raises the skill level of entrepreneurs, the Thomas Family Center will stimulate entrepreneurship through assistance to start-ups and existing small businesses.
“I had a good conversation with Jim Thomas before taking this position,” Dr. Menefee said. “I appreciate his vision to help people here.”
A grant from the Thomas Family Foundation launched the Entrepreneurship Center and the distinguished professorship. Thomas is a Pembroke, N.C., native who is a successful commercial real estate developer in Los Angeles.
Dr. Menefee will assist the University in hiring a director for the center and an additional professor of entrepreneurship.
“I’ll feel better when we are fully staffed,” he said. “When a director is on board, we will begin working with area constituencies, planning events and writing grants.”
With a Bachelor of Science degree in management from Northern Illinois University, Dr. Menefee earned a Master of Science degree in civil engineering and management and a Ph.D. in administrative science from Purdue University.
He has earned certificates as a financial analyst from Dunn and Bradstreet, corporate accounting, human resource management, mediation from UNCP and Bible studies and counseling from Moody Bible Institute.
“Being a generalist has worked well as far as entrepreneurship is concerned,” he said. “I’m glad to be back here working in entrepreneurship.”
The Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship at COMtech may be contacted at 910.775.4208.