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With over 3,000 universities and colleges now running serious entrepreneurship programs, the number of students studying entrepreneurship and dedicated faculty teaching those students increased dramatically. Paralleling this growth has been the launch of majors, minors, master’s programs, concentrations and specialties in entrepreneurship around the globe. New departments, schools, centers and institutes of entrepreneurship continue to appear. Yet, it has not always been this way, and there remain universities whose administration and faculty do not support entrepreneurship education in any sort of meaningful way. Our contemporary ability to have an empowering and transformative impact though these entrepreneurship programs is due to the pioneers who fought tremendous resistance to give birth to the academic discipline of entrepreneurship and to those who have produced and successfully implemented the kinds of innovations that helped the discipline grow in substance and stature.

To recognize the contributions of such individuals, the Karl Vesper Pioneer Award was created in 2008. Given each year in conjunction with the Experiential Classroom, the award is given to an individual who epitomizes the concept of an ‘academic entrepreneur’ – a person who with passion and perseverance has enabled entrepreneurship to expand both in its reach and impact. The recipient is a role model for faculty and others devoted to the dissemination of the entrepreneurial mindset.

The Karl Vesper Pioneer Award winner is selected annually by a committee of distinguished entrepreneurship faculty and includes all the former winners. Nominations for this award can be emailed by March 1 of each year to Michael H. Morris.

Past Award Winners