Papers of SAIC Founder J.R. Beyster to Shed Light on Entrepreneurial Success

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Betty and J. Robert “Bob” Beyster

Last December, in honor of the one-year anniversary of J. Robert Beyster’s  passing at the age of 90, the Beyster family donated Bob Beyster’s Papers to the UC San Diego Library’s Special Collections & Archives, where they will serve as an outstanding resource for students, scholars, and business owners interested in entrepreneurial innovation and success. Beyster founded the highly profitable government contractor, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), which was modeled on his successful blueprint for entrepreneurial, employee-empowered companies.

Beyster’s papers include SAIC business records, correspondence, committee meeting minutes and materials related to employee ownership. They also host records on a broad range of government-funded research and development projects including Strategic Air Command during the Cold War, safety of the international space station, critical hull design for a number of U.S. entries in the America’s Cup race, clean-up of Three Mile Island, commercialization of the Internet, and more. Beyster’s papers also comprise the more than 60 technical publications he authored along with the numerous awards and honors he received for his innovations and accomplishments.

“We are very grateful to the Library for its commitment to preserve and maintain these materials.” said Mary Ann Beyster, Bob Beyster’s daughter and a former trustee of the UC San Diego Foundation Board. “With their help, we will carry on my father’s values by educating and inspiring students, scholars, business owners and others, to fuel new start-ups and creative, employee-empowered enterprises.”

A brilliant scientist who also excelled as an entrepreneur and  businessman, Beyster worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory and General Atomics before founding SAIC in 1969, as a San Diego-based, employee-owned company. While this form of corporate governance was viewed as radical at the time, it proved to be a winning formula for SAIC, which grew to become a multibillion-dollar-a-year research and engineering contractor for government and private-sector companies. In addition to his many achievements in the private sector, Beyster and his wife, Betty, made numerous significant contributions to the university, both in terms of financial support and public service. Among their many years of leadership in various university roles, Bob Beyster served as chairman of the UC San Diego Foundation Board, and along with his wife, Betty, was the recipient of the UC San Diego Chancellor’s Medal. In 1986, the Beysters established the Foundation for Enterprise Development (FED), a nonprofit organization aimed to advance the understanding and support of policies and practices for broad-based employee ownership. FED is now part of the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego.

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Betty Beyster, signing the deed of gift for her husband’s papers, with son, James, and daughter, Mary Ann.

“The Beysters have made so many important and meaningful contributions to the university and the community,” said University Librarian Brian E. C. Schottlaender. It is an honor for the Library to preserve this rich archive of material.” “We thank Mary Ann and her family for their continuing commitment to advancing education and knowledge. This archive will help to increase awareness of the benefits of entrepreneurship and employee-owned enterprises, and the keys to their success.”

After the materials are processed, the Beyster Papers will be housed in the UC San Diego Library’s Special Collections & Archives, where they will be available for use by scholars, researchers and educators. The Beyster family has also provided funding to facilitate the processing of the archival materials to make them available for research and discovery online via the Web. The collection is expected to be made available to the public in 2017.

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