Southern Illinois Research Park, Inc.
1740 Innovation Drive
Phone: 618| 453-3427
Kyle Harfst joined Southern Illinois University in 1994. He brings a background in banking and work with entrepreneurs through his professional and academic experience. Harfst currently serves as executive director of Southern Illinois Research Park. An Iowa native, Harfst holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa, and master’s and doctoral degrees, both from SIU. His dissertation title was Assessing the Impact of Small Business Training on Nascent Entrepreneurs in Illinois. Prior to his 22 years of university-based economic development, he was a banker in the State of Iowa. When asked about why he chose to pursue a career in higher education setting, Harfst said, “Initially this was not a deliberate choice. I had been a banker in Iowa for nearly 10 years prior to coming to SIU. The plan was that I would get my MBA here and then go back into banking. However, my initial work at the Small Business Development Center gave me the opportunity to utilize my business skills with start-up companies and existing businesses.” He also noted that his family played an important role in his decision. “Education has also been very important in my family. Both of my parents were educators, my sister and brother-in-law are professors and my brother teaches at a community college. My grandmother was a school teacher and I had several extended family members who were teachers as well. My career at SIU has combined my passion for education with my business experience. Every day is a new experience.”