Leo Simpson, our Lawrence K. Johnson Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship, is retiring from Seattle University at the end of this academic year. Leo is closing out eight years at SU and an amazing 46 years as a university professor at four different institutions - SU, Western Kentucky, Eastern Washington, and North Dakota.
Leo is a pioneer and legend in entrepreneurship education. While entrepreneurs have been around for thousands of years, entrepreneurship as an academic discipline is very young, not getting any real traction until the late 1960's and early 1970's. Do the math and you will see that is when Leo was starting his teaching career!
As a teacher, Leo has won teaching awards at three different universities and instructed thousands of students in the topics of entrepreneurship, innovation, policy, and operations. He has proven to be successful at the undergraduate and graduate levels and he frequently employs a project based method in this courses. His students have garnered many awards at national competitions hosted by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE), the National Small Business Institute, and ENACTUS (formerly Students in Free Enterprise). These awards speak to the quality of Leo's work with countless students over the years. Leo is a very student focused instructor, and students have always appreciated the personal attention they receive and the support he is willing to provide them.
During his time at SU, Leo has served as faculty advisor for the ENACTUS program, with several of his teams achieving top rankings and awards in regional and national competitions. He has also spearheaded our effort to establish a minor in entrepreneurship and then to promote that across the SU campus.
Among his colleagues in entrepreneurship education, Leo is highly regarded and known for his significant contributions to the field. He has received numerous awards and has been recognized by professional organizations as a mentor, fellow, and certified business trainer. For nearly 25 years he served on the National Small Business Institute Board of Directors and he has also served on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for the Small Business Institute. In recognition of his career long contributions to ENACTUS, he received the Jack Kahl Entrepreneurial Leadership Award in 2014.
On May 21 st , we hosted a dinner to recognize Leo for his many contributions and accomplishments in higher education and at SU. Two themes that emerged were that Leo is a supportive colleague and an inspirational and caring teacher . Colleagues who were present talked about the support and encouragement they received from Leo in their work, and former students talked about how Leo focused on their success and inspired them to do things they did not know they were capable of doing. They noted the important role Leo played in their professional formation.
A few people observed that they thought Leo's "listening skills" had improved while at SU. :} Perhaps at first he came thinking he had all the answers, but soon learned he could benefit from the input of a few others every once in a while. It was also suggested that when Leo first arrived at Albers, he did not really see the point or value of advisory boards (We're big on advisory boards at Albers - we have 11 and soon will have 12!). It did not take him too long to discover the value of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, however, which he has been unabashed in taking advantage of in recent years! :}
Leo, thank you for everything you have contributed to SU over the last eight years and thank you for your 46 years of service to entrepreneurship education! You have had an amazing impact on thousands of students, and that is quite a legacy to have established!