This article has been updated.

In a first for the institution, the University of Texas at San Antonio will rename the College of Business after Carlos Alvarez, after he and his wife, Malú, donated $20 million to the university, UTSA announced Wednesday.

The Carlos Alvarez College of Business will be the UTSA’s first college to be named after someone and the first business school in the University of Texas system named after a Latino, a UTSA spokesperson said. The $20 million gift is the second-largest in UTSA history.

The largest private donation UTSA received was the estate of Mary McKinney, which has grown to $30 million since first announced in 2010. The Alvarez gift is the largest “non-estate” gift the university has ever received, the spokesperson said.

UTSA received another large donation in 2018. Rackspace co-founder and Community Labs chairman Graham Weston donated $15 million to help fund construction of UTSA’s School of Data Science and National Security Collaboration Center in downtown. The university broke ground on the $90 million facility in January, with the other $75 million coming from UTSA’s permanent fund.

Alvarez’ business success story will resonate with current and future students, UTSA President Taylor Eighmy said. In 1986, Alvarez founded the Gambrinus Company after moving his family to San Antonio from Mexico. The company became the U.S. importer for the Grupo Modelo beer brands, picking up Shiner Beers over the years.

“The fact that he’s using this amazing opportunity to give back to the community in this way is a full-circle American Dream story,” Eighmy said.

Alvarez, 70, said the gift to UTSA business college was only natural for him as a business owner and co-chair of the university’s Campaign Leadership Council. The council is a group of community leaders that is heading the largest fundraising campaign in UTSA’s history, “Be Bold – A Campaign for Our Future.” Introduced in 2017, the 10-year campaign aims to raise $500 million to support UTSA’s 10-year strategic vision.

That’s the advice Alvarez would give to his younger self and others interested in starting a business – to be bold. He said the time to take risks is when people are first beginning their business journeys, and going to business school will help students know when to take a calculated risk and how to handle the challenges that come with it.

Carlos Alvarez Credit: Courtesy / UTSA

“In a way, being intrepid and flirting with something that is risky is the trademark of entrepreneurship,” Alvarez said. In 2010, he was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame, and in 2011, Alvarez received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which honors immigrants whose works of philanthropy have bettered their communities.

Additionally, the fact that Alvarez is a first-generation Mexican-American who is having UTSA’s business school named after him should help attract the large number of Latino students the university serves to attend business school, Alvarez said.

“I hope that there will be many who will benefit from the UTSA School of Business,” he said. “I think it will continue being a major component of the great advantages that San Antonio will be providing its community and certainly a magnet for additional companies moving to San Antonio.”

Eighmy said the Alvarez family has a long tradition of philanthropy for UTSA, starting in 2006. Before this gift, the Alvarez family had donated more than $7.4 million to UTSA, benefitting more than 1,000 students.

“Their belief in our purpose and mission is unshakable,” Eighmy said. “The magnitude of this gift is going to enable future giving opportunities, and it allows people to think bigger and to maybe make investments sooner rather than later.”

The Alvarez gift will be put into an endowment so it can benefit future generations of students, Eighmy said.

“He’s investing in the future of San Antonio because this program that is being established is going to be in perpetuity. It’s going to be benefiting our community into the future forever, and whose heart is not warmed by that story?” he said.

The College of Business encompasses more than 7,900 students, seven academic departments, and two research centers. It has produced nearly 40,000 graduates to date.

Disclosure: Shiner Beers and Graham Weston’s 80/20 Foundation are financial supporters of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of business members, click here. Carlos and Malú Alvarez’s Impetus Foundation underwrites the San Antonio Report’s Shiner Internship program.

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Brooke Crum

Brooke Crum is the San Antonio Report's education reporter.