Brookings Smith professorship in entrepreneurship established

Olin School's Hamilton to be first holder

Major gifts from The Bellwether Foundation and from Nancy Morrill Smith will create the Robert Brookings Smith Distinguished Professorship in Entrepreneurship for the Olin School of Business, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton announced.

Its first holder will be Barton H. Hamilton, Ph.D., professor of economics, of management and of entrepreneurship in the Olin School. He will be installed in a ceremony planned for later this year.

Bart Hamilton
Bart Hamilton

“Since joining the Olin School of Business in 1996 as an assistant professor, Bart Hamilton has made an indelible mark here by spearheading entrepreneurial programs,” said Dean Stuart I. Greenbaum, Ph.D., the Bank of America Professor of Managerial Leadership. “An inspiring teacher and great researcher, he is well-deserving of this distinction as the first Robert Brookings Smith Distinguished Professor in Entrepreneurship.”

Although entrepreneurship is a major focus of Hamilton’s research and teaching, other areas of specialization include health-care management, applied microeconomics, econometrics and human-resource management. In 1999, he received the Reid M.B.A. Teaching Award.

Hamilton has been published in a number of scholarly journals. In addition, he has served as a referee for virtually every academic journal in the field of economics.

His tenure at the University is characterized by a quick rise, first as an associate professor with tenure in 2000 and three years later as a full professor. He has also served as the Olin School’s academic director for the executive master of business administration program in health-services management and as director of the Hatchery, Olin’s entrepreneurship program.

Before coming to WUSTL, Hamilton was an assistant professor of economics at McGill University in Montreal.

Hamilton earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley, and a doctorate at Stanford University.

He is a member of the American Economic Association, the Econometric Society and the American Statistical Association.

The gifts from The Bellwether Foundation and Nancy Morrill Smith do more than provide a new distinguished professorship; they also give the University’s campus-wide entrepreneurship initiative added momentum.

The University’s entrepreneurship programs have flourished in recent years and are being further propelled by a $3 million grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, awarded in December 2003. The University’s goal is to make entrepreneurship education available across campus and transform the way entrepreneurship is viewed, taught and experienced.

“These visionary gifts from The Bellwether Foundation and Mrs. Smith are remarkable in their generosity to the John M. Olin School of Business, and, because of the Kauffman Foundation grant, the gifts will have a positive ripple effect on all the entrepreneurial activities and programs across the various schools,” Wrighton said.

“Robert Brookings Smith helped guide this university for many years, and his contributions as a trustee helped form the solid foundation that we are now building on as a first-class university. We are extremely grateful to The Bellwether Foundation and Mrs. Smith for these generous gifts and are honored that the name of Robert Brookings Smith will be associated with Washington University in perpetuity in such an important way.”

The combined gifts of $1.7 million from The Bellwether Foundation and Nancy Morrill Smith, along with funds from the University’s Sesquicentennial Professorship Challenge grant, will provide a strong academic foundation for the study and practice of entrepreneurship.

“Interest in entrepreneurial programs continues to climb at the Olin School of Business and is spreading campus-wide,” Greenbaum said. “These wonderful gifts provide the Olin School with great opportunities for curricular expansion and research within our existing entrepreneurial and experiential learning programs.

“The late Robert Brookings Smith was an exceptionally talented man with tremendous entrepreneurial spirit and drive,” Greenbaum added. “With these exciting gifts, his legacy will guide our students for generations to come.”

Robert Brookings Smith was an entrepreneur as well as a philanthropist, community leader and banking executive. He died in 2002 at age 99.

Although he left St. Louis to matriculate at Princeton University and later to distinguish himself as a naval officer in the Pacific, Smith returned to St. Louis and built a successful career in investment banking at Mercantile Trust Co., where he became vice chairman of the board.

It was after retiring from the banking business that Smith became involved in entrepreneurial enterprises, devising new concepts based on the latest information technology of the time. He created Cashex Inc., which pioneered electronic check authorization cards, and National Cache Card, which developed various uses for “smart cards” including the campus card and the women’s medical card.

In addition to his career, Smith cared deeply for many local institutions. Many of his philanthropic efforts were directed toward St. Luke’s Hospital and the Missouri Botanical Garden, where he served as honorary trustee and board president. He also was involved in the Little Symphony Society, the Navy League Council of St. Louis and the Greater St. Louis Arts Council.

Smith had a long and abiding association with Washington University, having served on the Board of Trustees from 1963-1975. From 1966-1971, he served as vice chairman and was active on the board’s executive, nominating, investments and student affairs committees. In 1975, Smith was appointed an emeritus trustee.

He also was a founding member of the School of Art’s National Council.

In recognition of his support of the University, Smith received the Robert S. Brookings Award in 2000. Robert S. Brookings — chairman of the board from 1895-1928 — was Smith’s great-uncle. In addition, Brookings founded The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., for which Smith served as vice chairman of the board for several years.