Jerry Gustafson’63 Alumni Award
Awarded in 2008
Those who know Jerry are no doubt aware of his classic, Midwestern humility—his preference for talking about others’ accomplishments over his own. So many may not realize the stellar achievements that have marked his Beloit career, not least of which is the profound impact he’s had on students. He has been Teacher of the Year, earned a Distinguished Alumnus Award, and joined the ranks of emeriti faculty upon retirement in 2013. He has received national recognition in the field of entrepreneurship education and held the Coleman Chair in Entrepreneurship for 25 years at Beloit. He was tapped to be a Congressional Fellow by the American Political Science Association, which drew him to work in the nation’s capital, and allowed him to bring that experience back to his teaching in Beloit’s economics department. He taught in Turkey twice through Fulbright Fellowships and helped Beloit start a student exchange program there that continues to this day.
In the middle of his career—when it would have been easy to continue teaching the familiar subjects of economic theory and economics of the public sector—he made a bold pivot to learn about, teach, and become an expert in small business and entrepreneurship education. Those efforts culminated in the establishment of the Center for Entrepreneurship in Liberal Education at Beloit (CELEB), for which he is founding director. We also recognize what is perhaps Jerry’s greatest achievement of all: his work with students. It is no surprise that Jerry appears on stage to introduce recipients of the Distinguished Service Citation, year after year; it is a testament to his impact on the lives of his students and classmates that they recognize his contributions to their achievements. Jerry’s propensity to advocate for students is legendary, as is his effectiveness in helping them recognize their passions and inspiring them to act on them. While he’s taught many students about economics and entrepreneurship, he has done so while helping them to develop strong values and to be confident, honest, conscientious, and self-sufficient. The Beloit College Alumni Association realizes the impact Jerry Gustafson has had on this college and generations of alumni who have gone out into the world, taking Jerry’s wisdom and inspiration with them. We are proud to call him a Beloiter, and pleased to honor him with the Alumni Award, given to alumni for loyal and dedicated service to this college, our college, Beloit College.