Kevin Crosby named Hedberg Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies
Inspired by the entrepreneurial culture he’s brought to the space sciences program, Carthage has chosen Professor Kevin Crosby to infuse that same spirit of innovation throughout the College as the new Hedberg Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies.
“Most people think of entrepreneurship as starting your own company, which is certainly something we’ll cultivate — and that’s just the starting point,” he said. “Entrepreneurial thinking breeds success for everyone. It’s about having an innovative mindset, solving problems that matter, and creating value in your community.”
Influenced by lessons from his own well-rounded career, the late Donald D. Hedberg ’50 established the faculty endowment in the 1990s.
“I’m delighted to see Kevin Crosby apply his prodigious skills to increase entrepreneurship among students across the College, in accordance with the Hedberg family’s wishes,” said President John Swallow. “Don Hedberg was an outstanding entrepreneur, and this is yet another way that his legacy at Carthage lives on.”
Guided by the first Hedberg appointee, Professor Douglas Arion (now retired with emeritus status), the groundbreaking ScienceWorks program benefited natural science majors for more than 20 years. Prof. Crosby’s work will expand on that blueprint.
In tandem with The Aspire Program, Carthage’s exclusive career development sequence, he’ll encourage all students — regardless of major — to develop creative solutions to “real world” needs.
“There are only winners in this appointment, and lots of them. We are extremely fortunate to have Kevin Crosby leading this effort, and I know many other faculty members across the College will bring their own specialized expertise and creative vision to it,” said Provost David Timmerman, Carthage’s chief academic officer. “I’m mostly excited for our students, who will reap the benefits.”
He will maintain his roles as director of the Carthage space sciences program and the NASA Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium (WSGC). Headquartered here at the College, the WSGC supports students and faculty across the state through scholarships, research grants, and internships.
“Kevin has been involved in Carthage’s entrepreneurship programs for many years,” said Deanna Byrnes, dean of the Division of Natural and Social Sciences. “Given his recent work with students, the partnerships he’s built in the region, and the opportunities made available to students and faculty through his WSGC connections, Kevin is the best person to help us develop entrepreneurial paths for our students.”
The new distinguished professor made clear that the benefactor’s vision will guide him in reshaping entrepreneurial studies at Carthage. Although Mr. Hedberg launched his share of successful businesses like Lab Safety Supply, he valued the lessons learned from failed ventures just as much.
“The program’s origin story involves Don Hedberg wanting Carthage students to have the benefit of the hard lessons he had to learn before his first successful business,” Prof. Crosby said. “An undergraduate entrepreneurship program offers a unique opportunity to see what it takes to bring an idea into the world. Take those risks and make those mistakes now, rather than when the stakes are high enough to squash your creative impulses.”
Mr. Hedberg, a longtime Carthage trustee who also provided the lead gift for Hedberg Library, passed away in September. The family has plenty of ties to the College, including his wife, Marilyn — likewise a former board member.
Prof. Crosby is especially eager to help faculty and students with promising ideas tap into venture capital and grant funding, something that’s been a hallmark of his research career. He’s been awarded more than $14 million in grants and contracts.
He already mentors regional entrepreneurs with gBETA, a free accelerator program for startups with Wisconsin roots. Just one more example of the innovative culture the professor has seen blossom in the region over the past decade.
“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “It’s coming to us.”