The Office of the Provost has announced that Kevin Steidel, assistant professor of practice in Wittenberg’s business program and director of the university’s M.A. in analytics program, has been named the new Robert E. Ness Chair of Entrepreneurship. Endowed chairs are permanently funded positions typically established through gifts from donors to support excellence in teaching and scholarship.
Ohio businessman Robert “Bob” E. Ness, Wittenberg class of 1963, and wife, Lynn Noble Ness, Wittenberg class of 1964, established the Robert E. Ness Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship in 2008 with a $1.5 million leadership gift. A member of Wittenberg’s Board of Directors, Bob Ness previously served as chairman and CEO of the Columbus-based ODW Logistics, which is now owned and managed by his son, John Ness, Wittenberg class of 1996.
The Ness Chair enables the university to extend its commitment to developing well-rounded, out-of-the-box thinkers, who cannot only paint a vision and design the path to achieve it, but also inspire countless others along the way. The Ness Chair in Entrepreneurship has also continued to enrich university programs designed to prepare the next generation of business leaders.
“Through Bob and Lynn’s generosity 11 years ago, students pursuing business careers at Wittenberg have had access to cutting-edge research, industry innovations, and remarkable entrepreneurial thinking through the holder of this endowed chair,” said Wittenberg President Michael L. Frandsen. “I am confident that tradition of excellence will continue under Kevin’s leadership as our new Ness Chair, and I am grateful that Bob and Lynn’s vision in this field continues to inspire students and faculty alike at their family’s alma mater.”
Teaching in the areas of entrepreneurship, marketing, research methods, and analytics at Wittenberg, Steidel has introduced students to the business and entrepreneurship programs at an early stage in their educational careers through his work with the university’s First-Year Seminar program.
Bringing authenticity to the entrepreneurship program, Steidel himself began four start-up businesses. His first business was a direct-mail product firm, but he quickly expanded to develop an online portal and established digital consumer profile. He then sold this business to a customer before coming to Wittenberg. He currently sits on the board of directors for three small Ohio businesses and works locally with the Springfield Small Business Development Council (SBDC).
Steidel and Heath Queen, coordinator for engaged learning at Wittenberg, have also directed the Communications and Business Leadership Experience (CABLE) program the past two years. CABLE is a professional development opportunity open to Communications and Business majors and minors. Steidel also directs the master’s program in analytics and has developed valuable relationships with local companies to send employees through this program.
“Kevin has been a critical addition to the business program since his arrival in 2015,” said Mary Jo Zembar, interim provost and professor of psychology. “His teaching experience in Wittenberg entrepreneurship classes, his willingness and efforts to push for innovative changes to the business curriculum, and his practical experience as an entrepreneur make him an ideal candidate for the Ness Chair in Entrepreneurship.”
Three years ago, Wittenberg was affirmed as an incubator for start-up success as per Forbes, which ranked the university among the Top 50 Most Entrepreneurial Colleges in the nation. Wittenberg was joined by Middlebury, Vassar, Colby, Smith, Amherst and Villanova in earning this distinction. To learn more about business at Wittenberg, click here.