BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Donald F. Kuratko, a distinguished scholar at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business and executive and academic director of the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, has received the highest honor presented by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
The award was presented to Kuratko on Jan. 9, during the association’s annual conference. He received the Max S. Wortman/USASBE Lifetime Achievement Award for Entrepreneurship, which is given to an entrepreneurship educator who encompasses the ideals of entrepreneurial activity.
“Don Kuratko’s energy and passion for entrepreneurship education, commitment to fielding an excellent team of faculty, and acumen at building dynamic and forward-thinking entrepreneurship programs are all important factors in his receiving the Max S. Wortman Award. But also exceptional about Don is his generosity of time and expertise with upcoming educators in the field,” said Julianne Shields, president and CEO of USASBE. “His impact is even greater by coaching and mentoring professionals throughout the field.”
Founded in 1981, the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship is an inclusive community of educators, researchers and entrepreneurs advancing entrepreneurship education through bold teaching, scholarship, and practice. USASBE also publishes a peer-reviewed academic journal, Entrepreneurship Education & Pedagogy, and develops a variety of helpful resources and professional development opportunities for entrepreneurship educators as they create a positive impact.
“I cannot think of a more deserving person than Professor Don Kuratko for this prestigious award. As an educator and scholar, Don is among the very best in the entrepreneurship field,” said Idalene “Idie” Kesner, dean of the Kelley School and the Frank P. Popoff Chair of Strategic Management.
“Add to this his stellar leadership of the Johnson Center at the Kelley School, his leadership in so many national entrepreneurship organizations and the countless awards he has won over decades of service to the field and it is obvious why Don was selected for the Wortman/USASBE Award,” Kesner added. “He has indeed made a lifetime’s worth of outstanding contributions.”
The award is especially meaningful to Kuratko because it is named for Wortman, a friend who was an early innovator who made a lifetime commitment to teaching and research in entrepreneurship.
“To receive this award is very special because of my friendship with Max. It’s not just a name on an award, but it is an honor that reflects his values and what he stood for,” Kuratko said. Anyone who receives this award gets attached to him in some way. His legacy will live on through each recipient of this honor and I feel I have contributed to his legacy.
“I also appreciate that it represents a body of achievements over a lifetime of work. It means the world to me,” he added.
Established Kelley as the No. 1 business school for entrepreneurship research
Kuratko came to Kelley in the fall of 2004 to lead the Johnson Center and to become the Jack M. Gill Distinguished Chair of Entrepreneurship. Under his leadership, the Johnson Center has become one of the nation’s leaders in entrepreneurship education, supporting groundbreaking faculty research that appears in top journals, books adopted by universities worldwide and through the Kelley School’s degree programs.
“We pride ourselves as being the No. 1 business school in the world for entrepreneurship research,” he said. “With the center and everything, we took a little different approach. So many schools take the approach of a center being an outreach center, or doing things with the community, but we went in a different direction to become an academic center, focused on the research and the curriculum for our students.
“I think that really distinguished us, with a unique business school approach to entrepreneurship. That’s why we have been able to attract so many great faculty in entrepreneurship to come here,” Kuratko said, referring to them as “the next generation of great scholars.”
Kuratko himself is the author of more than 200 articles on all aspects of the field as well as corporate innovation, published in top journals such as the Journal of Business Venturing, Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Operations Management, Small Business Economics and the Journal of Business Ethics. He also has written 30 books, including the one of the leading texts worldwide, “Entrepreneurship: Theory, Process, Practice (now in its 11th edition),” and “Corporate Entrepreneurship & Innovation, and New Venture Management.”
In the last couple of decades, entrepreneurship has become a more respected academic discipline. Prior to his arrival at Kelley, the field struggled to gain credibility. “But today it’s obviously not only relevant and credible and legitimate, but it’s part of the primary thinking of most business schools now,” Kuratko said.
He said the topics for study and teaching in the discipline used to be fairly “singular,” focusing on start-ups, but today there is a lot of research in corporate entrepreneurship, corporate innovation, venture crowd funding and a huge movement toward social entrepreneurship.
For example, he cited unique research of Kelley faculty members and center scholars such as Sophie Bacq, an Institute for Entrepreneurship & Competitive Enterprise Faculty Fellow; Trent Williams, the William L. Haeberle Professor of Entrepreneurship; Greg Fisher, the Larry and Barbara Sharpf Professor; and Regan Stevenson, the John and Donna Shoemaker Faculty Fellow in Entrepreneurship.
The Johnson Center has launched cross-campus initiatives with the Maurer School of Law, and College of Arts and Sciences, and affiliations with the Jacobs School of Music and the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. It also is home to the Entrepreneurial Innovation Academy for Kelley MBA students and the annual Clapp IDEA Competition and Velocity Conference.
A respected leader at the state level for decades
Kuratko came to Kelley after an already distinguished career at Ball State University, where he founded its entrepreneurship center in 1983. Under his leadership, he developed the Midwest Entrepreneurial Education Center and an outreach program that let faculty, staff, and students work with the State of Indiana, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and growing entrepreneurial companies. He was Entrepreneur of the Year for the state of Indiana in 1990.
Through his frequent appearances on the weekly show “Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick,” he became known to many Hoosiers as “Dr. K.”
The Wortman/USASBE Lifetime Achievement Award is one of several honors Kuratko has received. His peers voted to recognize him as Entrepreneur magazine’s No. 1 program director. Fortune magazine has called him one of the top entrepreneurship professors in the nation. He was the inaugural recipient of the Karl Vesper Entrepreneurship Pioneer Award and he received the National Academy of Management’s Entrepreneurship Mentor Award for development of the next generation of entrepreneurship scholars. He is a member of the Institute of American Entrepreneurs’ Hall of Fame.
While this latest award recognizes Kuratko’s career achievements, he said he has no intentions of retiring any time soon. Being at Kelley remains a “dream come true.”
“Everyone says when you retire you should retire to something that you enjoy and I actually love being here at Kelley. I love what I do here,” he said. “I want to keep on going and keep building and keep our program on the cutting edge.”