Dr. Jon ’48 and Betty Kabara
Dr. Jon and Betty Kabara are the founders of the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at Saint Mary’s University.
A chemistry major at Saint Mary’s, Dr. Kabara later earned an M.S. in Organic Chemistry at the University of Miami, and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of Chicago.
Dr. Kabara dedicated his life to medical research. He served as a professor at the University of Detroit and later Michigan State University for more than 30 years, and in 1969, he helped establish the first affiliated school of osteopathic medicine at a major university (Michigan State). An expert in the field of dietary fats and oils, Dr. Kabara and his innovative company, Med-Chem Labs, Inc., were awarded 16 U.S. and foreign patents. Dr. Kabara is credited with more than 200 publications, including eight books.
In 2005, Dr. Kabara and his wife, Betty, a member of the Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees, began their commitment to support the growth of entrepreneurship at SMU. Through a transformational gift, they established the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies.
A lifelong entrepreneur, Dr. Kabara had this advice for students: “Make ‘ethical business’ more than an oxymoron term. As leaders for the next generation, our country and world need your special talents and efforts to help form a truly peaceful global economy.”
Dr. Kabara, who died in 2011, also encouraged students to have a passion for what they do:
“My final piece of advice is this secret: If you can dream it, you can make it happen. So dream big.”
In 1970, Saint Mary’s honored Dr. Kabara with the Heffron Service Award; in 1998, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award; and in 2008, he received an honorary Doctorate of Ethical Leadership. In 2012 the university recognized Dr. Jon and Betty Kabara with its first Heritage Award for outstanding philanthropy.
One of Jon and Betty’s requests for the institute was that we work to foster entrepreneurship among all students at the university, irregardless of their field of study. The institute often partners with various departments such as biology, music, art, business, and education to ignite the spirit of entrepreneurship in a diverse range of students from varying backgrounds and interests. One technique utilized is the selection and sponsorship of speakers and field trips targeting specific student groups. Past speakers have included educational entrepreneurs, music entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, and business entrepreneurs to name a few.