Asheville native Ed Wright, professor of management and director of the Corporation for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Western Carolina University’s College of Business, has been appointed to the position of Wesley R. Elingburg Distinguished Professor of Business Innovation at WCU.
The WCU Board of Trustees approved the appointment Friday, Dec. 7, as part of its quarterly meeting. Wright, a member of the faculty in the College of Business since 2009, has more than 30 years of senior management experience in the consumer products, dental equipment and medical devices industries in addition to his time in academia.
His work in the private and corporate sector and as an entrepreneur, combined with his years in the classroom, make Wright a perfect fit for a professorship in the area of business innovation, said Hollye Moss, interim dean of WCU’s College of Business.
“I can think of no one more qualified than Dr. Wright,” Moss said. “His experience working with the Western North Carolina business community includes extensive work with start-ups as well as established organizations. Dr. Wright will help WCU continue to build strategic and robust relationships with businesses in the region.”
The distinguished professorship, endowed at the $500,000 level, was made possible by gifts to the university from retired Greensboro businessman and WCU alumnus Wesley R. Elingburg, combined with matching funds through a program initiated by the General Assembly to encourage private support of public institutions of higher education.
The professorship was established in 2006 to enable the university to recruit or retain nationally recognized experts in business disciplines to work closely with WCU’s undergraduate and graduate programs and examine core issues in educating for business development and regional economic development.
Since coming to WCU, Wright has led more than 200 student teams working on business development projects with regional small business partners. He is the inventor or co-inventor on five U.S. patents for medical devices and has developed and launched more than a dozen new products into global distribution. He led due diligence teams and transition management efforts in three international corporate acquisitions.
Wright also is a founding member of the Pinnacle Enterprise Angel Fund, which has funded five start-up businesses since 2015. He has 14 peer-reviewed publications to his credit, with two additional papers pending publication. His research interests include business development, health care management and medical innovation.
Wright holds a doctorate in management from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio; a master’s degree in business administration from Wake Forest University; and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“As a native of Western North Carolina, I look forward to working on a higher level with regional business partners through this professorship to help foster economic development,” said Wright, a graduate of Roberson High School who currently resides in the Biltmore Lake community. “I also will continue to enjoy helping to equip our students with the skills they need to be successful in the business world.”