Making a Difference and Leaving a UIW Legacy

October 26, 2022

Beckendorf Family Establishes New Center for Future Entrepreneurs

(L-R) Dr. Thomas M. Evans, UIW President; Karin Beckendorf; Scott Beckendorf; Sophie Rose Beckendorf; Dr. Jeannie Scott, Dean, H-E-B School of Business and Administration

From the Development Board to the Board of Trustees, Scott Beckendorf has been serving and supporting the University of the Incarnate Word for almost three decades. His family ties to the University, however, stretch back much farther. In the 1940s, Jeanette Hermann Longoria and Ayleen Hermann Radke, the aunts of Scott’s wife Karin, graduated from then-Incarnate Word College. More recently, the Beckendorfs' daughter, Sophie Rose Beckendorf, graduated from UIW in 2018. Over that time, the family has seen the once small college transform into the dynamic, global university that it is today.

“Many great things have happened during my time volunteering for the University,” says Beckendorf. “Buildings have been built and professional schools opened. The acquisition of Founders Hall across Hildebrand from the main campus was a huge improvement for UIW’s future growth. I’m excited about the direction Dr. Evans is currently taking UIW, its administrators, faculty and students, while adhering to the mission of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.”

The Beckendorf family is helping accelerate that growth through their biggest commitment to the University yet. Thanks to their generosity, UIW has established The Beckendorf Family Center for Innovation and Global Entrepreneurship. The Center will work with the H-E-B School of Business and Administration (HEBSBA) to find and develop the business leaders of tomorrow right here at UIW. University leaders gathered with the Beckendorf family to officially open The Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 14, 2022.

Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word at the Beckendorf Center ribbon-cutting ceremony

“Karin and I felt that there was a need at the University for students to learn the immense possibilities our amazing country offers through its free market system of capitalism,” says Beckendorf. “The Center will be a place for students to learn how to create a product or service and take it to market. Students will learn that, by investing time, energy and resources into a well thought out plan, almost anything is possible.”

“The Beckendorf Family Center for Innovation and Global Entrepreneurship is an exciting new venture that will enrich UIW students’ education, offer them new experiences and open doors – not only here in the U.S., but around the world,” says UIW President Dr. Thomas M. Evans. "We are very grateful to Scott and Karin Beckendorf for their friendship and their vision to make more possible for our Cardinals.” 

The mission of the Beckendorf Center is “to promote entrepreneurial thinking, innovation and action.” That means incorporating educational programs, experiential activities and networking and outreach opportunities to both internal and external stakeholders. The vision is “to be the hub of all efforts related to entrepreneurship at the University of the Incarnate Word and the home of all UIW entrepreneurial thinkers.” The entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship-related courses are open to everyone campus-wide.

Scott Beckendorf speaks to students at The Beckendorf Family Center for Innovation and Global Entrepreneurship

“The beauty of the Beckendorf Family Center is that it fits perfectly with the UIW Mission,” says Dr. Teresa Harrison, UIW associate professor of Management. “UIW was established by three nuns making a difference in the community. They were entrepreneurial in spirit – they had to be entrepreneurial to survive, thrive and evolve into all that the UIW-system encompasses. The Beckendorf Family Center will offer programming available to all students in all majors so that they, too, can go out into the community and give back as business leaders.”

Adds Beckendorf, “Being Catholic and having been involved with the University for many years and personally knowing the members of the congregation, the University’s leaders and its Mission, we felt UIW would be the perfect fit to steward our wishes to help young students evolve into successful business people with endless opportunities."

The Beckendorf Family Center will help the students and faculty of the HEBSBA connect to the San Antonio business community by providing opportunities for mentorship, internships and partnerships. This Center invests in the entrepreneurial aspirations of students, allowing them to develop successful business ideas and be part of a mentoring program that is supported by business owners, local and international entrepreneurs and professional start-up advisors. Currently, the Center will be home to the HEBSBA Pitch Competition, the Entrepreneurship Coffee Club and the popular HEBSBA Start-Up Challenge Competition. These types of events and offerings include having speakers and leaders in the community discuss their journeys and explain the entrepreneurial mindset to students. In the future, the Center will include curriculum for undergraduate students and a certificate program that can be offered to students and business professionals. It will be led by three co-directors: Harrison, Dr. Segun Oyedele, associate professor of International Business and Dr. Jose Moreno, professor of Finance.

People around a conference table

“The Beckendorf Family Center will bridge the San Antonio business community with the HEBSBA,” says Dr. Jeannie Scott, dean of the H-E-B School of Business and Administration. “This will bring opportunities to our students and faculty and allow us to bring opportunities to the business communities. I just want to say thank you. This will change the lives of our students!”

“I thank the Beckendorf family for their generosity and their entrepreneurial spirit in establishing this center,” says Harrison. “Their gift creates a central place for entrepreneurial activities that was missing before. Thanks to their contribution, the launch of the Center will create a legacy for future generations of business owners and entrepreneurs who will make a difference in the world and will impact others in San Antonio and beyond.”

For the Beckendorfs, the Center will continue to build on a legacy that students will benefit from for decades to come.

“Our message or desire is that a student will learn at the Center, from professors and mentors, that in a free market society, to always work hard for those things they truly believe in,” concludes Beckendorf. “Whether it be a new product or a better product, a service or a better way of servicing or something no one has ever conceived. To follow those beliefs and find others with the same beliefs as an investor, partner or associate to help execute their plan and fulfill their dream.”

The Beckendorf Family Center for Innovation and Global Entrepreneurship started its work in the Fall of 2021.