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Bagby accepts lifetime achievement award at Nashville

Jan. 28, 2010

Courtesy Photo
Dr. Ray Bagby, right, receives the United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Lifetime Achievement award. Bagby is the Robert M. and Louise Rogers chair of entrepreneurship.

By John D. Elizondo

Many only dream of being honored with a lifetime achievement award, but not associate professor of management and The Robert M. and Louise Rogers chair of entrepreneurship, Dr. Ray Bagby.

"I never really dreamed about something like this," Bagby said. "It was a shock when they wanted to nominate me, probably I would say shocking because there are a lot of people out there who have done a lot of good things."

Bagby accepted the United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Lifetime Achievement Award on Jan. 15th in Nashville, Tenn.

Bagby knew long before he received the award that the director of Baylor's entrepreneurship program, Dr. Kendall Artz, nominated him and that several colleagues wrote letters to the selection committee recommending Bagby for the award.

While Bagby was being ordained as a minister in December, Bagby found out that he won the award.

One of Bagby's close friends, Dr. Les Palich, associate professor of management and holder of the Ben H. Williams Professorship in entrepreneurship, said, "From what I have heard the committee's deliberations lasted all of about one minute,"

"Once they saw [Bagby] was in the group considered for the award it didn't take any time for them at all to decide that he was the guy to receive it."

Palich and other professors were in Nashville to see Bagby accept his award.

"Typical of Ray, he was very humble about it. I mean from the time he knew he was going to receive the award right through the present," Palich said. "He has a way of saying 'I am not even sure why they picked me,' but we all knew why they picked him."

"People know him, respect him, like him and he expresses his genuine concern for other people. He has been a tremendous asset for Baylor and his longtime work for the university," Palich said.

Bagby, who has taught entrepreneurship at Baylor for 22 years, cited his work for the Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice journal as a strong reason for his recognition.

Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice is an academic journal owned by Baylor in which professors in the entrepreneurship field publish research. Bagby has been the executive editor for the journal for 25 years and aided in the journal being brought to Baylor.

Bagby said that when he was applying for a teaching position at Baylor, he asked if the university would buy the journal and bring it to Waco so he could continue working on it and making it better.

The university bought rights to the journal in 1988 and, as Bagby said, "the rest is history."

The journal is on the Financial Times list as being one of the top 40 journals in the world in business. Bagby said the journal was at the brink of extinction when he started working on it and now it sells more than 4,000 subscriptions in more than 60 countries all over the world.

He also said that when he received his lifetime achievement award, the presenter said the journal gives legitimacy to the entrepreneurship field.

"Baylor gets a lot of recognition as a result of his work in the journal and the fact that the journal is housed at Baylor, and will stay at Baylor," Palich said, "His work outside of the classroom doesn't overshadow his work in the classroom, and the impact he has on his students."

Baylor alumnus and one of Bagby's former students, Rhett Dawson, said, "His expertise brought a value to the classroom experience."

Dawson, who is now the international director for Success Motivation International in Waco, said that Bagby did not lecture but he created dialogue with his students and Dawson said what he has learned from Bagby's classes has helped him in his career today.

"The fact that the classroom experience is still relevant seven years later says a lot about the character and the level of professionalism he brings to the job, above and beyond of what the requirements are," Dawson said.

"I am really just delighted that he is being honored in this way, and I couldn't think of a better person who could receive it."

Despite receiving a lifetime achievement award, Bagby said he has more to prove.

Palich said Baylor's entrepreneurship program is ranked fourth in the nation with the likes of Harvard, MIT, and California-Berkley [2009 Entrepreneur Magazine college rankings]. Palich said the recognition wouldn't have come if it weren't for Bagby.

"I think that the journal is so highly regarded and the fact that it is connected with Baylor and people recognize that, and it would have not given [the program] that reputational burst were it not for Ray's leadership," Palich said.

Dawson said Bagby's recent award is a sign of things to come for the program.

"I would set the challenge for Ray to take the program and bring what he has been able to do in his career to really push the boundaries with that program and get it to be that top program.," Dawson said.