Remembering Our Founder, Rudy Lamone

Rudy Lamone delivering a speech at the 2018 Rudy Awards.

Rudolph (Rudy) P. Lamone, the founder of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, sadly passed away on Jan. 30, 2023. As previous dean of the Smith School (1973 to 1992), a co-founder of the National Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers, and a founding member of the National Consortium for Life Science Entrepreneurship Programs, “Rudy” was a name not only known and beloved by the University of Maryland community but nationwide. 

“His vision for what The Dingman Center could be shaped a resource that proved to be instrumental in my growth as well as my peers. His passion for entrepreneurship and empowering students who wanted to take that jump was very real. He was admired as a trailblazer, and someone with whom the students and staff looked upon with great admiration. Through his championing efforts, we provided multiple generations of Terps with a chance – a chance many of us would otherwise not have. His presence at Dingman events will absolutely be missed, but as a community we will celebrate his memory through our continued efforts to build a better future through entrepreneurship,” said Dingman Center Young Alumni Founders Council member, Jordan “Jay” Greenwald.

Rudy was an extraordinarily giving individual. Within the Dingman Center, he launched the Dingman Center Angels, a Maryland-based angel investment group that provides funding to early-stage companies. Additionally, The Rudy Awards, named after Rudy, were even created to honor members of our community who embody his entrepreneurial and generous spirit. 

Rudy (left) and Holly (right), awarding Alex Onufrak a check during the 2019 Rudy Awards.

This spirit will continue to live on in all of the people Rudy mentored. He cared deeply about the success of his students and even referred to them as “his kids”.

“Rudy was an incredible role model who never stopped working to impact student lives through entrepreneurship, and worked tirelessly to support the Dingman Center and the Smith School,” says Brent Goldfarb, Dean’s Professor of Entrepreneurship and Academic Director of the Dingman Center. “Rudy was effective because he celebrated everybody’s talents. He was such a great human being. Any interaction with Rudy was a privilege. I hope his inspiration will live on in all of us.”

As a pioneer within the filed, Rudy was a role model for many students, but also had some of the strongest impacts on those who worked alongside him. 

“Throughout my years at the Dingman Center, Rudy was always available to listen, encourage and offer relevant advice,” said Holly DeArmond, former Managing Director of the Dingman Center. “I loved hearing him say ‘hey kid’ every time he arrived in my office, or I called him on the phone. Rudy made me and countless others feel appreciated, supported, and qualified.” 

Rudy was an innovative businessman with a gift for seeing the potential in all entrepreneurs regardless of their age or background. Even outside of accomplishments within the industry, Rudy was known for his genuine and kind demeanor. He was a man who loved getting to know people and always made everyone in the room feel heard and appreciated. Many who interacted with Rudy personally, truly understand his love for sharing a good meal and connecting with others. 

Rudy and Elana at the 2019 Rudy Awards.

“Rudy’s rite of passage was taking new team members to Sergio’s, an Italian restaurant in Silver Spring, that unfortunately recently closed. He’d been going there for years, and true to his personality, had made deep connections with the maitre dee and the staff,” said Elana Fine, former Executive Director of the Dingman Center. “Walking in with Rudy you felt like royalty. That’s what made Rudy so remarkable – the number of deep connections he had with so many people – students, faculty, peers, family, donors, alum, etc. Rudy made a lifelong commitment to the people in his orbit. I can’t think of anyone so selfless, caring and dedicated as Rudy Lamone.”

DeArmond agreed, “for some reason, all my best memories of Rudy involve food. During my first few months at the Dingman Center, Rudy treated me and a co-worker to a long lunch at Sergios, his favorite Italian restaurant near campus. Many who know Rudy have probably been treated to a meal there. He was a frequent visitor. But it was the first time I got to have a real conversation with him. We bonded over music. My husband is a full-time musician and I love music in all forms. Rudy was a sax player back in the day and loved to talk about jazz. I always joked with him that he made the right decision moving out of music and into business–we always had a good laugh about that. The other great memory I have is when he and his wife Linda treated me and my husband to dinner at the beautiful Annapolis Yacht Club. During the dinner, Rudy was genuinely interested in learning more about us, how we met, how we ended up living in Annapolis. We talked about music, the military, and our mutual love for Annapolis.” 

Despite your level of interaction with Rudy, his impact on the University of Maryland community is undeniable. 

“Unfortunately, I never got to meet Rudy but I am so incredibly thankful for all the opportunities that he has given to me and many aspiring entrepreneurs. When I first transferred to UMD from MC, I had a very hard time finding people that I could relate to until I found the Dingman Center. The team and the incredible entrepreneurs that I have met through this center made me feel so welcomed and also challenged me every day to be a better version of myself and it’s all thanks to Rudy. I really wish I had a chance to meet him and thank him, but his legacy lives through the Dingman Center and all the people that he has impacted,” said Caroline Ta, member of the Dingman Center Young Alumni Founders Council.

Barathi Aravindan, another member of the Dingman Center Young Alumni Founders Council agrees. “Despite having only met him once or twice, I only ever heard great things about him. It was and still is clear how much of an impact he had on Smith and the students during and after his tenure (the Dingman Center itself being a prime example!). Although he’s gone, he certainly left quite a legacy to be remembered by and to be utilized for generations of students to come.”

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