Ernest (Ernie) Winfield Walker, Lawrence D. Gale Chaired Professor Emeritus in Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship, was born in Mississippi in 1917. He grew up on a small farm, paid his way through junior college, and enlisted in the army upon the start of World War II. Upon his return home, he enrolled at the University of Mississippi, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. While at Ole Miss, he met Margaret Marshall, who he married in 1949. Ernest received his doctorate in business administration from Indiana University.
Ernie’s first academic post was at Drake University. In 1954, he arrived at the College and Graduate School of Business in Austin. His fifty-year career at UT nearly did not happen due to his being scheduled to teach strategic management instead of financial management, causing Ernest to announce his resignation. Thankfully, Dean W.R. Spriegel changed his assignment and Ernie promptly began his service to The University.
Dr. Walker made many contributions to the field of corporate finance and was an expert in the financial management of small businesses. He excelled in teaching, earning the Texas Exes Association’s Outstanding Educator Award twice (1979 and 1998). In 1993, he was inducted into the McCombs Business School’s Hall of Fame. He became the first recipient of the Gale Chair in Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship in 1978.
From 1961-65, Dr. Walker was chairman of the finance department. He authored or co-authored six books and published research in financial journals. Ernest also often testified as an expert witness in business valuation cases, and collaborated with the Texas State Securities Board.
Ernest had several visiting professorships at U.S. Universities and was recognized internationally. He lectured in over forty countries and was invited to join the Rencontre, an international discussion group. In 1996, Potchefstroom University in South Africa awarded him an honorary doctorate.
Ernie served on the board of directors and consulted for many small businesses. He consulted for the Texas Commission on Higher Education Coordinating Board and was chairman of the Board of Directors of Detectagas Ltd from 1958-61. He was a founding member and the sixth president of the Financial Management Association, president of the Austin Investment Association (1969), and president of the Austin/San Antonio Society of Financial Analysts (1974). From 1969-72, he served as an economist for the National Association of Credit Management.
During his 1993 McCombs Hall of Fame induction, Dr. Walker called for more focus on promoting small businesses; this led to the formation of the Center for Small and Middle-Sized Businesses, which he directed for the next ten years. From 1994-2003, Dr. Walker helped to develop and teach the Community Minority Business Advancement Program (CMBA).
Dr. Walker’s passion and commitment went beyond academia. He was a thirty-second degree Mason and was a Paul Harris Fellow and president of the West Austin Rotary. Deeply spiritual, he was a Deacon of Highland Park Baptist Church, taught Sunday school classes, and helped found the Austin Baptist Church. He was chosen King Brio XXII of the Knights of the Symphony, loved golf, was president of Austin Country Club, and supported the Settlement Club in Austin.
Ernest W. Walker passed away on April 2, 2010, in Austin, Texas.