E. LaVerne Epp, the long-time leader of KU Innovation Park, will be honored as the 2024 Citizen of the Years by The Chamber of Lawrence. LaVerne was a driving force behind the founding of the Park in 2008, then known as the Bioscience and Technology Business Center. LaVerne served as Executive Chairman for the Park until his death in September 2023. The award will be given posthumously at The Chamber’s annual meeting on January 26, 2024.
“LaVerne was a visionary leader with a natural talent to bring people together to work toward a common goal,” said Adam Courtney, the interim CEO of KU Innovation Park. “He was completely dedicated to the success of the Park. His work changed the landscape of KU’s West Campus and will have a positive and lasting impact on the economy in Lawrence, Douglas County and beyond. The KU Innovation Park team is appreciative that LaVerne’s legacy is being honored by one of our founding stakeholders.”
The Chamber’s Citizen of the Years award honors individuals whose commitment to and impact upon the Lawrence community spans a lifetime. LaVerne’s career began in 1976 when he joined a private law practice in Newton, Kan. Ten years later, he co-founded a development and management company for senior living. Its flagship community, Brandon Woods, brought LaVerne to Lawrence. In 2001, LaVerne was named president of Bethel College, his alma mater. His involvement with KU Innovation Park began in 2006 when he was asked to serve on the Lawrence-Douglas County Bioscience Authority board.
“This center is more than a building,” LaVerne said during the 2009 groundbreaking for the first facility of what would become KU Innovation Park. “It is people, people who will link technology with business services and capital. People who will train and educate bioscience leaders and managers. People who will transform ideas into commerce.”
See the announcement in the Lawrence Business Beat, produced by The Chamber, here.