Truly impactful leadership transcends business acumen and entrepreneurial success—it also has a quality that inspires new generations to pursue their passions and become business pioneers. As longtime friends of the Max M. Fisher College of Business and Ohio State, Bert L. and Iris S. Wolstein’s legacy continues to inspire today’s students to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.

The Wolsteins’ impact throughout the But for Ohio State Campaign began in 2012 when the Bertram L. and Iris S. Wolstein Foundation committed $4.9 million to The Ohio State University, with $3.4 million allocated to Fisher to create the Bert L. and Iris S. Wolstein Entrepreneurial Leadership Initiative Fund. In 2013, the Bert L. and Iris S. Wolstein Gateway on the Fisher campus was dedicated to honor Mr. and Mrs. Wolstein’s commitment to the college.

Bert and Iris Wolstein
Bert and Iris Wolstein

But beyond visible markers on campus bearing their names, the Wolsteins’ passion for developing future entrepreneurs is felt by Fisher students every day. In an open letter to her classmates, 2016 Fisher graduate and Wolstein Scholar Kelsey Rumburg wrote about the significance of the Wolsteins’ generosity and the effect it had on her educational experience.

The unique opportunities provided by the Wolstein Scholar Program outside the classroom allowed Rumburg to lead an interdisciplinary team of students in the design and construction of a home in rural Honduras.

“As a native of Chardon, Ohio, a small suburb of Cleveland, I have grown up knowing the Wolstein name, but I never imagined that Mr. and Mrs. Wolstein would have such a key role in my college experience. The Wolstein Scholar Program focuses on entrepreneurship and allows students from all walks of life to start building their own businesses and learn from their real-world mistakes.

“As a part of the Honduras Sustainable Housing Program, students from civil engineering, architecture, construction systems management and business work together to design a better housing solution for those in rural Honduras. I have applied many of the principles I learned as a Wolstein Scholar to this very challenging international project—something I never would have dreamed of! This experience also encouraged me to gear my research toward entrepreneurship, and I recently completed my honors thesis on scaling social enterprise, which is a business with a social mission.”

The Bert L. and Iris S. Wolstein Entrepreneurial Leadership Initiative Fund supports the Bert L. and Iris S. Wolstein Seminar in Entrepreneurial Leadership, a capstone course for high-achieving Ohio State students from across multiple academic disciplines. Students who successfully complete the seminar are recognized within Fisher as Bert L. and Iris S. Wolstein Scholars and graduate with a Distinction in Entrepreneurship.

A key component of the seminar is for students to incorporate lessons learned from the book, Crossing the Road to Entrepreneurship, which was written by the late Bert L. Wolstein. A successful entrepreneur, he founded Heritage Development Company, a full-service real-estate firm headquartered in Moreland Hills, Ohio, that’s involved in residential, industrial and commercial real estate projects across the country. Mr. Wolstein was also founder and chairman emeritus of Developers Diversified Realty, one of the nation’s largest and most successful real estate investment trusts.

Today, Iris Wolstein continues Mr. Wolstein’s legacy of leadership as president of Heritage Development Company, where she oversees operations for Heritage Development and its subsidiaries. In addition to running the firm, Mrs. Wolstein is a director of The Ohio State University Foundation Board. She continues the couple’s legacy of stewardship through her involvement in a number of charitable organizations and philanthropic endeavors, including support of The Ohio State University, where the couple has given generously over many years.

The Max M. Fisher College of Business is grateful for the Wolsteins’ continued dedication to helping educate tomorrow’s business leaders through their generous support of experiential learning opportunities that are helping to build the next generation of successful entrepreneurs.