The success of Duquesne University’s Entrepreneurial Studies Program director and serial entrepreneur Ron Morris will be applauded with the Ernst & Young 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award.
Morris will become the first person in the Pittsburgh-West Virginia region to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. The presentation will be at the 25th annual event, which is sponsored by Smart Business Pittsburgh, on Saturday, June 10.
“I was pretty impressed to hear that I had been given this award mainly because, for me, this has been a time of giving back,” said Morris, who considers his second career to be a “knowledge philanthropist.”
“Ron Morris banks on his real-life experiences, running the gamut as both a successful and a struggling entrepreneur, to share invaluable field-tested strategies with our students,” added Palumbo-Donahue Business School Dean Alan Miciak. “Through this award, he’s recognized not only for his contributions to the region’s business community but for his efforts, through our students, to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of America.”
Morris, who has shared his on-the-ground insights with more than 700 Duquesne students in the classroom so far in his career, sees teaching others as a natural outgrowth of his startup work. Starting with a door-to-door egg sales route more than 50 years ago, at age 10, he developed about a dozen startups, including Information and System Research Inc., a software company that made him a multi-millionaire before the age of 30. Morris persisted through some lean years before helping to grow both Mastech (now IGate Corp., a publicly traded NASDAQ company with a $2 billion market cap) and Rapidigm, a software services company with revenues topping $400 million. Morris ultimately built and sold JD Warren Inc.—which helped insurance companies recover third-party deductibles—to reach a point of envious financial stability.
Morris embarked on his academic career after selling JD Warren in 1999, but still finds the entrepreneurial way of life irresistible. Through a recent venture, a radio talk show called The American Entrepreneur, Morris offers advice on WMNY 1360 Business Talk Radio, which is heard across the nation and in 120 other countries.
He sits on several boards, including the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, a nonprofit that teaches entrepreneurship to kids from low-income communities, improving business, academic and life skills to enhance their economic productivity.
“Sometimes people listen to you and they succeed,” Morris said. “That is just as important as me succeeding. The teacher—and I think all entrepreneurs are teachers—are happiest when a student achieves success—even happier than the students.”