MBA Director and Associate Professor George Dierberger holds the inaugural Thomas ’72 and Karen Howe Endowed Professorship for Entrepreneurship. His impressive career at Augsburg spans over a decade. After initially teaching night classes, he became a full-time faculty member in 2012. “I always felt that Augsburg was a premier university, a great brand that is making a difference in students’ lives. I love the communities that we serve, especially the first-generation students and students of color,” he shared. The ability to open doors and work with students who might not have a robust network like multi-generational students at other institutions makes Augsburg unique to George. “If you dig what we do, you’re making the most profound difference in the greatest number of student’s lives.”
George’s passion for innovative thinking and creative problem-solving is reflected in his work. Last year, he was selected as a Fulbright Scholar and spent the 2022 fall semester teaching in Ireland. “I was teaching as part of the Atlantic technological university system, which is in the western part of Ireland, there are eight locations from Letterkenny down to Galway,” George said. “We did a lot of research around entrepreneurs in Ireland and examined what motivates them.” One of George’s main focuses included implementing a statewide entrepreneurship cup. This opportunity allowed innovators to share their ideas and the top winners would receive an award.
“The Irish people as well as their government are very entrepreneurial,” George stated. In recent years, Dublin has become home to several international companies including Apple, Google, and PayPal. “The systems and processes they have in place to support entrepreneurship are what we’re trying to do with the Howe professorship,” he shared. Finding ways to embed similar support systems and opportunities into the Augsburg experience is in the foreground of George’s plans for the future. He’d love to find a way to provide opportunities for students to earn scholarships and monetary prizes through an Augsburg version of an entrepreneurial cup.
Currently, George teaches a leadership course in the MBA program and leads a 580 field study course. The 580 field study course works with entrepreneurs who need help developing a business plan and which the MBA students produce.
When reflecting on being named the chair for the Howe professorship, George shared, “It’s really so humbling. The Howes’ generosity will inspire change, drive the innovative spirit within our students, and create opportunities for their future success.”
The scope of an endowed position extends beyond the area in which someone is appointed, it can touch many facets of university life and provide the chance for cross-collaboration. An example of this is George’s desire to partner with departments and programs across the campus. There is an opportunity for collaboration between the business and science departments through a new course that will be offered in the fall of 2023. “Our [the business department] proximity to the chemistry, biology, and physics departments provides so much opportunity to pull students in and create really great synergy.” This is another example of how the physical space of the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion is providing unique partnerships.
George’s hope is that someday every business professorship will be endowed by philanthropy. “If we get to this point, integral budgetary resources can be redeployed in strategic ways.” Having a strong endowment will enable Augsburg to thrive in the future and alleviate the financial barriers students face. To date, five endowed positions have been established during the Great Returns: We’re All In campaign totaling $10,012,050.00 in philanthropic support.
As a seasoned entrepreneur and business expert, George examines return on investment and key performance indicators as a way to measure success. “We have very tangible deliverables in place to demonstrate how the entrepreneurial spirit goes beyond my individual position. It’s important to demonstrate how philanthropic investments create long-lasting change.” For George, sustainable positions like the Howe professorship will only strengthen the resilience and success of Augsburg entrepreneurs.