In Memory of Greg Dees

January 2014, Erin Worsham

We are deeply saddened that our dear friend and colleague, Greg Dees, passed away on Friday, December 20, 2013.

Greg was not only the co-founder of CASE, but also considered by many to be the “father of social entrepreneurship education.”  He was instrumental in founding and developing social entrepreneurship as an academic field, through his work at Duke, Stanford, Harvard and beyond. When he began, “social entrepreneurship” was a new and novel term.  Now, a google search reveals more than 65 million hits and Dees’s seminal piece, “The Meaning of Social Entrepreneurship” is arguably one of the most widely distributed pieces in the field.

There are many – students, practitioners, and academics all around the world – who considered themselves to be one of “Dees’ Mentees.”  A name that Greg would always sheepishly blush at, a sign of his deep humility.  He was always generous with his time and knowledge, willing to help anyone in the pursuit of social impact, and quick with a smile and a kind word.

Greg was laid to rest in a private family service in Cincinnati on December 26, 2013.  We will also be planning a public memorial service to be held at Duke in 2014 and will provide more details as they become available. In the meantime, please join us in sharing memories, photos, videos and stories of Greg on a memorial site that his family has created:

The stories and pictures that have already been posted make it clear what a remarkable man Greg was and how many people he touched. We find deep comfort in these stories, knowing that his spirit and wisdom will live on through the many people that he inspired.

Greg has always been the guiding light for CASE and, in his honor, we will do our best to continue to make social entrepreneurship at Duke worthy of his legacy.  He was in our lives for too short a time, but we are truly grateful for every moment that we shared and to have known his kind soul, generous heart, brilliant mind, and endless generosity. We owe him so much and will miss him deeply.

We are grateful to the global community that has already begun to come together to celebrate Greg’s legacy. Links to some of those memorials are below as well as a few pictures to remember Greg’s wonderful smile.

As we move in to the New Year, may we all remember Greg Dees and travel in the path that he has laid out for us towards a better world, acting boldly and using innovative approaches to address critical social issues.


Visit the Greg Dees Memorial Page.