Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Dedicated at Southeast

Photo of Douglas C. Greene

Douglas C. Greene is an entrepreneur, benefactor and friend of Southeast Missouri State University.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., May 13, 2011 — The Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast Missouri State University was dedicated today for Douglas C. Greene of Vancouver, Wash., and Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Today’s dedication ceremony in the Wehking Alumni Center followed official approval of the naming of the center by the University’s Board of Regents in December.

The Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast Missouri State University is one of the most comprehensive entrepreneurship-focused university centers in the Midwest, offering a wide array of academic and outreach programs and services, including: innovation development and research; entrepreneurship education, training and mentorship; and business incubation and development services.  The Greene CIE supports Southeast Missouri State University’s strategic priority to advance the region’s economic appeal and strength by accelerating local and regional economic growth and development that improves the quality of lives, communities and businesses in southeast Missouri and the surrounding region.

Opening today’s ceremony was Dr. Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University.

“Doug Greene has been a very loyal and generous supporter of our University.  He and his wife, Heather, have been committed to assisting our students through a variety of innovative initiatives.  His support of our entrepreneurship program is one of only many ways he has truly been a friend to our University,” he said. “Naming the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Doug is truly fitting of a man who epitomizes, believes in, has a passion for and lives entrepreneurship.”

Dr. James Stapleton serves as the executive director of the Center which has been identified by its peers as a leader in entrepreneurship education, training and development.

“Mr. Greene is a long-time supporter and advisor to our entrepreneurship program and has been instrumental in the entrepreneurial movement at Southeast Missouri State University,” said Stapleton.  “He has a strong commitment to providing students opportunities for success as witnessed by the support he has provided through scholarships and other resources for the University.  In addition to his generous support, Doug is a wonderful example for our students and clients, and a valuable mentor and friend to me and the University,” he added.

Dr. Gerald McDougall, dean of the Donald L. Harrison College of Business at Southeast, said, “Doug Greene’s support and encouragement have allowed the Harrison College of Business to establish an outstanding set of programs in entrepreneurship that reaches across campus, extending into our immediate community, our larger region, and across state lines.  The challenges Doug has presented us with, and the entrepreneurial initiatives Doug has supported, have generated hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars of income for our region.  Just as importantly, they have opened up unexpected opportunities for our students to pursue a dream or passion. 

“I look forward to the advances that we can expect from the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship because of the confidence Doug and Heather have shown in our ability to cultivate a mindset that cultivates and accelerates the entrepreneurial process,” McDougall added.

“The naming for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is the greatest honor that will ever be bestowed upon me,” Greene said. “I am so grateful to the University for their support of these Entrepreneurial Studies programs at Southeast. This is the Academy Award of my business career. But the difference between an Academy Award and the naming of the CIE building is that an Academy Award is for a single performance; what goes on in this building will be affecting the lives of thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of lives at Southeast, as well as in this region, over the years. This is not for just one performance; it is in perpetuity.”

Greene said that upon his first trip to Southeast Missouri State, he realized students were unaware of what they might face in the corporate world after graduation.

“So the journey began to remedy that feeling by inviting business owners, managers, inventors and captains of industry to teach an entrepreneurial discipline to students at the Harrison College of Business,” he said. “Campus competitions in entrepreneurial endeavors were announced and thousands of students at Southeast developed products of their own. The success of the entrepreneurial spirit was in unlocking the student’s dreams and recognizing their creative potential.

“Today, Southeast has become the launching pad for entrepreneurism as alluded to by Missouri’s Governor Nixon, this past February, in his address to the Delta Regional Authority at the University,” Greene said.

Greene has been involved in the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Center’s annual Global Entrepreneurship Week for several years. He and his wife, Heather MacDonald Greene, have made a 10-year commitment totaling $200,000 to provide scholarship support to students interested in entrepreneurship. The 10-year commitment was established to honor Southeast President Kenneth W. Dobbins for his leadership and support of the University over the past 10 years, in particular, his support for the entrepreneurial disciplines at the University.  The scholarships are designed to help students grow their passion in their field of study and prepare them in their careers.

The Greenes also have made a planned gift of more than $1 million to establish the Douglas and Heather Greene Endowed Fund for Entrepreneurial Students which will provide student scholarships, and enhancement and expansion of the Center.

“Over the years of giving back to the community, I have subscribed to the practice of ‘giving a hand up, rather than a handout,’” he said, “and have attempted to incubate entrepreneurship at Southeast with scholarships to develop the same passions I have in building a business. There’s an old saying: ‘Give a man a fish and he will be back another day; teach a man to fish and he’ll never go hungry.’”

Greene has twice been a guest speaker during Southeast’s Global Entrepreneurship Week. In 2008, he served on a panel discussion on “global entrepreneurship.” In 2009, he spoke about the challenges of starting a new entrepreneurial business and partnering up with other individuals and companies.

For the past three years, Greene has presented the Douglas C. Greene Award of Excellence in Entrepreneurialism during Global Entrepreneurship Week at Southeast. The scholarship is presented annually to an outstanding student at Southeast in recognition of the student’s accomplishments in the field of entrepreneurship through contributions to the education, business and social community.

In 2006, Greene worked with an entrepreneurship class in the Harrison College of Business as student teams developed marketing plans for a product he developed — a remote control for turning Christmas lights on and off to the sound of music with the touch of a button.

Greene says entrepreneurism is growing nationwide.

Statistics from the Small Business Administration support the entrepreneurial movement, he said. Last year, 2010, 340 out of every 100,000 adults launched a business each month, creating 558,000 startups, monthly. More than 5 million Americans 55 or older, run their own businesses or are otherwise self-employed. And the number of self-employed people, ages 55-64 is soaring the SBA says, climbing 52 percent from 2000 to 2007. “At that time we started the entrepreneurial movement at Southeast, none of us were clairvoyant enough to foresee the current financial and economic conditions facing the U.S. as well as the rest of the world that we are experiencing today,” Greene said. “If there was ever a time to embrace the benefits and disciplines of entrepreneurialism, it was then. “Today we have members of Congress and the President of the United States recognizing that 65 percent of new private sector jobs have been created by small businesses in the past decade,” he said.

In addition to his work with the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Greene has demonstrated a strong commitment to providing students opportunities for success in other areas of the University. Mr. and Mrs. Greene have made gifts to establish a scholarship to benefit a student enrolled in the bachelor of fine arts program in musical theatre in the Department of Theatre and Dance and another for a student interested in working with the historic collections in the Special Collections & Archives section of Kent Library.

Greene, whose late first wife was a Southeast alumna, also established the Janet Paar Greene Endowed Scholarship through the Southeast Missouri University Foundation in her memory.

This scholarship is awarded to an English major with preference given to students from Jackson, Mo., or Cape Girardeau County.  Mr. and Mrs. Greene, along with Charley Greene, made a generous contribution in 2002 to the River Campus in the name of Janet Paar Greene, who was an artist, to establish a traveling exhibition gallery in the Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum.

In February 2010, Douglas and Heather MacDonald Greene were honored with the Friend of the University Award from the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. The Friend of the University award, which recognizes those who support and who are closely associated with the mission, purposes, plans and programs of the University, is the highest honor bestowed by the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. When the Foundation Board established the award, it also established the criteria for the Friend of the University. The Friend of the University must have the respect of the community and the University, and must have acted to confirm their interest and involvement with the University.

In addition, during Homecoming 2005, the Southeast Missouri State University Alumni Association named Greene a Distinguished Service Award recipient. The Distinguished Service Awards are presented to individuals who have made lasting contributions to their communities and to the University. Also during Homecoming festivities that year, Greene presented Southeast officials with a $50,000 Challenge Grant, in which he agreed to match alumni and friend donations to the Southeast Missouri University Foundation annual fund who had not previously made gifts to the Foundation or who increased their gifts from the previous year. Greene also was invited in 2002 to teach several lectures on campus.

Greene made possible the Heather MacDonald Greene Multi-Media Center, which opened in 2008. Located on the third floor of the library, the Center is one of a number of enhancements made recently in the library to create a new “Information Commons.” The Multi-Media Center is available to students working on multi-media group presentations.

The Multi-Media Center consists of a reception area with three individual group production rooms adjacent to this space. Each group meeting room is equipped with a computer with Internet access, a camera, editing equipment, Smartboards, a table and chairs. The equipment allows students to produce their own multi-media presentations using video, produced by the students, and other technology. 

Following his graduation from Marietta College, Greene began his career with Sears Roebuck & Company in the executive training program. During his time at Sears, he served as a store manager, manager of an experiential, start-up retailing operation in a suburb of New York City, and was responsible for introducing the Radial tire and Diehard battery to Sear’s stores. He worked at the company’s Chicago headquarters as the national buyer of lighting fixtures and fireplace equipment.

After 13 years with Sears, Greene left to take over a Portland, Ore., company that manufactured glass door firescreens, and went on to own or manage several other glass door firescreen companies before starting a new company that developed remote controls for gas fireplaces. Nicknamed the “Father of Fireplace Remotes,” Mr. Greene grew the company into an innovative, worldwide business venture.

He sold the remote business in 2001 and founded Skytech Enterprises, a company specializing in the development of Infrared (IR) devices for pain management and skin care treatments.

Greene has traveled extensively, sourcing products in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Korea, Japan, Spain, (former) Yugoslavia and India.