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Visionary Leaders

Philanthropists Betty and Bob Beyster have been proponents of change for decades, and continue that legacy at USD.

When it comes to leading change, Betty Beyster shares the perspective of her late husband, nuclear physicist and entrepreneur Bob Beyster: Pursue what you’re passionate about and stay the course, even if it’s unconventional.

That outlook drove Bob to found SAIC, an employee-owned company that’s become a giant in engineering, intelligence, and IT since its launch in 1969. It spurred him to establish the Foundation for Enterprise Development in 1986, a nonprofit dedicated to the sustainability of American science and technology companies. And it’s why Betty has high hopes that nurses, a group overshadowed in the healthcare industry, will be better equipped to address the challenges facing their profession in the 21st century.

But the idea to expand USD’s Hahn School of Nursing didn’t immediately jump out at Betty as a way to improve the future of nursing. Rather, it grew organically from her interest in funding nursing scholarships through the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Foundation. Nursing students at USD were often winners of the Beyster-backed scholarships. Betty became familiar with USD’s Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science as she kept in touch with these students. In 2007, a not-so-chance meeting was booked with Dean Sally Brosz Hardin.

In 2012, the Beysters donated a lead gift of $8 million to begin construction of the Betty and Bob Beyster Institute for Nursing Research, Advanced Practice, and Simulation. The building, which is adjacent to the school of nursing’s Hahn Pavilion, has more than doubled the school’s research and teaching facilities.