Dr. J. Robert Beyster (1924-2014) was a renowned scientist, innovator and entrepreneur. He founded Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) in 1969. SAIC grew into a Fortune 500 company within 30 years and was the largest employee-owned research and engineering firm in the United States. Dr. Beyster’s business ownership philosophy was that “those who contribute to the company should own it, and ownership should be commensurate with a person’s contribution and performance.” He created the Foundation for Enterprise Development in 1986 to continue his commitment to employee ownership in US-based science and technology companies. Alongside his beloved wife, Betty, Dr. Beyster was an active philanthropist, generously supporting their interests in advanced research, education and healthcare.
A four-time U-M alumnus, Dr. Beyster earned his bachelor’s degrees in physics and engineering mathematics in 1945, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in physics in 1947 and 1950, respectively. His doctoral dissertation can be viewed here. Betty Beyster is a graduate of the University of Texas, a member of the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Foundation, and an active volunteer and philanthropist. Mrs. Beyster currently resides in La Jolla, California. Together, Dr. and Mrs. Beyster had three children: Mary Ann Beyster, Jim Beyster and Mark Beyster.
The College of Engineering recognizes Bob and Betty Beyster for their generous gift of $15 million, which supports entrepreneurship programs, capital improvements and a fellowship program.
A significant portion of the gift endowed the J. Robert Beyster Computational Innovation Graduate Fellows Program, which funds up to 10 engineering doctoral student each year in fields that link high-performance computing to applications with real-word impact. Also, this gift included $5 million toward the renovation of the Nuclear Engineering Laboratory, which was completed in April 2017 (pictured above).
In recognition of this transformative gift, the College has named the Computer Science and Engineering building as the Bob and Betty Beyster Building in 2012. The College also hosts the J. Robert Beyster Collections at the University of Michigan, which includes three collections across North Campus that feature personal and professional memorabilia of Dr. Beyster.