The center traces its origins back to October 23, 1911, when President William Howard Taft gave a speech in the newly completed auditorium of the Administration Building (Krikac Hall) at what was then known as Northern Normal and Industrial School. Taft's speech combined foreign policy issues with the school's role.
More than three-quarters of a century passed until, in 1989, Northern State University began offering a bachelor's degree in international business - the first in South Dakota.
In January 1994, in cooperation with the Governor's office of Economic Development (GOED), NSU became the host institution for the South Dakota International Business Institute (SDIBI) under the direction of Joop Bollen. Assisting him was Julie Gonser and later Pamela Pollworth, functioning as outreach coordinator for the SDIBI. Its mission was to facilitate applicable training programs to assist individuals, businesses, and agencies in doing business internationally.
That same year, the International Business Conference was inaugurated. Held every year in Rapid City, the first conference in October 1994 featured 22 academic papers.
In late 1997, the South Dakota Legislature created the University Centers of Excellence, and NSU became the host of the Center for Excellence in International Business & Entrepreneurship (CEIBE) with Dr. Douglas Ohmer serving as its first director until May 2001. The center assumed hosting duties for the International Business Conference. The Center and the SDIBI operated on campus for a few more years until the SDIBI moved to the Aberdeen Smart Center.
The operation of the center always has required a two-person team. Assisting Ohmer was Michelle Scheide, serving as center coordinator through 2000. Ethyl Houge replaced Scheide and smoothed the transition to Professor R. James Krueger as center director. Houge was coordinator from 2000-2002, with Krueger serving from 2001-2003. Leigh Shillington replaced Houge as coordinator in 2002, serving until 2007 and remained when Ohmer returned as CEIBE director from 2003-2006. Dr. Willard Broucek became the center's director in 2006, acting until 2012 with Jennifer Wegleitner as coordinator from 2007-2012.
On Oct. 23, 2012 - 111 years after President Taft's speech - Mark Olchefske became CEIBE director. At the direction of NSU President James Smith, the CEIBE's mission was restructured to put more emphasis on interdisciplinary entrepreneurship. Study Abroad was moved to the Office of International Programs, freeing resources. Olchefske departed in 1914.
In 2013, the entrepreneurship certificate was added as a way to make entrepreneurship coursework more accessible to non-business majors.
In July 2013, Liz Hannum became coordinator for Study Abroad and the CEIBE, splitting her time between the Office of International Programs and the School of Business.