The University of Rhode Island’s College of Business will feature Rusty Rueff, businessman and entrepreneur during their annual Vangermeersch endowed lecture series.

Rueff will attempt to inspire the Rhode Island community to become successful in entrepreneurship.

“It started many years before I arrived with the endowment of one of our alumni Ms. Deborah Ciolfi, which started several years ago and she did this in honor of one of our faculty who is retired,” Maling Ebrahimpour, dean of the College of Business said. “His name is Professor Richard Vangermeersch and in his honor, our alumni, Ciolfi, has started this endowment. Every year we bring a speaker to talk about a subject of interest to the faculty and students at the University and at the college of business specifically.”

Every year the College of Business discusses topics that would be of interest to anyone who may have a passion for business. With entrepreneurship as the topic this year, Rueff was selected due to his very experienced background. With his current involvement in the URI community as a member of the board of directors for the URI Foundation, Ebrahimpour and the rest of the faculty involved believed that he would be a perfect fit.

“He has done a lot of entrepreneurial activity,” Ebrahimpour said. “He’s a founding board of director of Glassdoor, he works at [and is] one of the former chairmen for the Grammy Foundation. You go online and you can find out how extensive his experience is in many many areas and he is a great speaker. The reason we are bringing him is because our entrepreneurship program is a University program and college-based so there is a huge interest of entrepreneurship at the University and because this is interesting and students are interested to learn more about it, we focused on it and his name came up.”

Frederick Newton, another faculty member, was originally considered for this part in the lecture series. However, he personally knew that Rueff would be a better fit for the theme of entrepreneurship. With Rueff’s many experiences and accomplishments over time, Newton knew that Rueff would make this lecture fun and interesting for everyone.

“I’ve known him since 1987,” Newton said. “He and I worked together at Pepsi; right out of graduate school we both started there. He’s done some things that I haven’t and that’s why I thought he would be an outstanding person to come in and do the Vangermeersch lecture series. In that, he understands human capital and he’s even written a book on the manifesto on human capital.”

With this being the first year that the entrepreneurship program is in full swing for any student to take part in it, Rueff and the topic of entrepreneurship was a great choice in order to get the new program a kickstart.

“We actually started the entrepreneurship program last year, this is our first year officially offering a full-blown entrepreneurship program and there are interests across the University, not just in business,” Ebrahimpour said. “If you look around you can see that entrepreneur activities are happening at the University by a student every day doing a lot of little things and what would be more interesting than having a person who has done it many times and knows exactly how to do it and at the same time he has a philanthropic mind. He helps a lot of people so what would be better than bringing a person, who has done it many times, to the University and let the students, who now many of them are interested in entrepreneurship and can learn from him.”

With this new excitement of the entrepreneurship program being offered now and the amount of experience that Rueff has, both Ebrahimpour and Newton expressed that every student should attend.

“You’ll learn something, he’s fun, it’s interesting, you’ll enjoy it,” Newton said.