Keane helped to grow the center, established in 2000, to include an entrepreneurship curriculum, a business plan competition and Entrepreneurship Week, a university-wide event dedicated to entrepreneurship that includes classroom and campus speakers.
“I’m an entrepreneur,” Keane said. “I’ve started or had a hand in a number of companies. I think the Kohler Center has come a long way and is at the point where I can hand it off and work on those other things (with other companies).”
Keane said he first came to Marquette in 2001 to teach a class. He originally thought his time at the university would be short-term, but as the position expanded he decided to stay at Marquette as director of the Kohler Center until now.
Keane will continue his work as director of the “Golden Angels Network,” a group of Marquette University alumni and friends with a passion for entrepreneurship who promote and advance entrepreneurship in Wisconsin, Illinois and beyond,” according to the group’s website.
Keane said he would still teach a class in the fall and spend time working with companies for which he is a board member.
Tina Quealy, associate director of the Kohler Center, said Marquette does not know who will take over as director yet.
“Tim pretty much created the foundation for the Kohler Center, and he is the spirit behind everything we do at Marquette,” Quealy said.
Andy Nunemaker, a member of the Golden Angels Network, said Keane used his personal connections to build the center and the Golden Angels Network. Nunemaker said Keane has always been a mentor to him and was the one who got him involved with Golden Angels.
“It is a huge loss for Marquette to lose Keane as the Kohler Center’s director. I think it will be extremely difficult — if not impossible — to replace him,” Nunemaker said. “None of us would have been here if it wasn’t for his personal connections … He’s so good and so well connected.”
Larry Gilbert, another member of the Golden Angels network, said he thinks the Golden Angels Network is a huge asset to Marquette because it allows students to interact with real life entrepreneurs who can act as mentors.
Gilbert said students can run ideas by the entrepreneurs in the network and possibly even receive funding for their new business ideas.
Neither Gilbert nor Nunemaker said they were affiliated with Marquette until Keane used his connections to draw them to the the university.
Gilbert said he has served as a judge for the Business Plan Competition and Nunemaker said he will be teaching a class at Marquette next fall and would remain very involved in Golden Angels, again crediting Keane for his involvement.