Although it was not well-known, Professor Bill Beedles was a first-generation college student. During his 40-year career as a finance professor at KU, Beedles won numerous teaching awards and was beloved by students for his candor and upbeat spirit. He believed that a personal connection was an important factor in student success and was able to relate to the many challenges that first-generation students face. Students have said that Beedles was a natural mentor who listened and helped them find their own path to success.
After his retirement in February 2018, School of Business faculty and staff teamed up with KU Endowment to start a LaunchKU crowdfunding campaign in Beedles’ honor. They wanted to raise money to establish the Bill Beedles First-Generation Student Scholarship, a fitting tribute since Beedles was committed to providing all students with equal opportunities.
The initial goal of $25,000 was raised by faculty, staff and former students in the first few days of the campaign, prompting the team to raise the goal to $50,000. Many donors left comments filled with admiration for Beedles that were compiled and shared with him and his family.
“You have been a mentor and friend to so many Jayhawks over the years,” wrote John Holland. “Thank you for all that you have done beyond teaching us how to think.”
Brett Leigh wrote, “Thank you for being a brilliant professor, a caring role model and a true inspiration to me.”
The LaunchKU project ended on Jan. 1, 2019, with more than $65,000 raised. Nearly 100 donors contributed to support first-generation students in his honor. The first scholarship will be awarded in fall 2019.
Bill Beedles died on Sept. 24, 2018. His legacy will continue through the Bill Beedles First-Generation Student Scholarship for many years to come.
“As a family, we are blown away by the generosity of Bill’s students, colleagues and friends to the First-Generation Award and for it to be able to ‘live on’ is thrilling,” Ann Beedles said. “It is a testament to his commitment to ensuring that students have the resources they need to succeed.”