Longtime KU business school professor to receive Bert Nash Pioneer Award

“I can’t come up with the words to describe how flattered I am. And, frankly, how undeserving. I look at the list of previous winners, and these are folks I have admired for so many years.” — Bill Beedles

“I can’t come up with the words to describe how flattered I am. And, frankly, how undeserving. I look at the list of previous winners, and these are folks I have admired for so many years.” — Bill Beedles by Jeff Burkhead

When his friend and mentor Maurice Joy asked him to join the Bert Nash Investment Committee in 1996, Bill Beedles didn’t hesitate to serve.

“There was a resignation on the committee and he asked me to join, and I was thrilled to do so,” Beedles said.

Then he was asked by Joy in 2010 to take over as chair of the investment committee. Again Beedles didn’t hesitate.

“He didn’t have to ask twice,” Beedles said. “I was flattered.”

Beedles went on to serve as the Investment Committee chair until 2013, when he stepped down. For his many years of service to the Bert Nash Center, Beedles, a professor of finance and director of undergraduate business programs at the University of Kansas, will be honored with the organization’s 2017 Pioneer Award, which will be presented at the annual Pioneer Celebration on April 17. The event is from 5:30-7 p.m. at Maceli’s, 1031 New Hampshire, and is open to the public.

“I’m just so flattered,” Beedles said of being a Pioneer Award recipient. “I can’t come up with the words to describe how flattered I am. And, frankly, how undeserving. I look at the list of previous winners, and these are folks I have admired for so many years.”

One of those names is Maurice Joy, who, along with his wife, Betsy, received the Pioneer Award in 2005. Maurice and Beedles worked together at the KU Business School.

“He won every teaching award there was to win, and he had a scholarly record second to none,” Beedles said of his former KU colleague. “He had just the most productive career imaginable. He’s been my role model forever.”

Beedles had known about Bert Nash but it was through his relationship with Maurice that he became better acquainted with the Center.

“I was familiar with Bert Nash through my conversations with Maurice,” Beedles said. “So I knew of the good work of the Investment Committee and the Endowment Board.”

Later on, Beedles’ wife, Ann, worked for five years as a parent support specialist in Child and Family Services at Bert Nash.

“That gave me an idea of how important the work is but also how hard the work is,” Beedles said. “I have tremendous admiration for the staff at Bert Nash.”

He viewed his work on the financial side of the organization as a way to support the Center and its staff. In his role as chair of the Investment Committee, Beedles also served on the Bert Nash Endowment Board.

“I just adore the members of the Endowment Board and the way they treat this very important work,” Beedles said.

Maurice and Beedles served together for many years on the Bert Nash Investment Committee.

“My work here was very easy because of Maurice and Dave (Johnson, Bert Nash CEO), who set the direction for the Investment Committee and Endowment Board,” Beedles said. “When I took over as chair of the Investment Committee, basically, Maurice’s charge to me was don’t screw this up. So we just kept doing what he had done.”

While Beedles downplayed his role with the Bert Nash Center, Maurice did not when speaking about his longtime associate.

“Bill has been a pillar of strength for Bert Nash. He was on the Investment Committee for many years, including a term as chairman,” Maurice said. “His guidance contributed significantly to the growth of the endowment. He has always pitched in on other Center activities, including fundraising and public testimonials. I can think of no one more deserving to receive the Pioneer Award than Bill.”

Bert Nash CEO Johnson agreed, saying, “One of our most significant relationships with KU is the School of Business. While there are a lot of examples, the work of Dr. Maurice Joy in establishing our endowment and Investment Advisory Committee lead the way. And Maurice recruited Bill, who continued the work his predecessor started.”

Beedles has also been an advocate for Mental Health First Aid — the mental health awareness training course offered through the Bert Nash Center. In fact, Beedles’ audio testimonial promoting Mental Health First Aid has been part of a monthly community event called Discover Bert Nash since the event’s inception in May 2012.

“That is such an impactful program,” Beedles said about Mental Health First Aid. “The fact my story is a tiny part of that is very gratifying. You talk about a program that has had a community impact. It’s been remarkable.”

Beedles, who has been part of the KU Business School since 1978, will retire from full-time teaching after this semester. He and his wife of 43 years are looking forward to spending more time with their four grandchildren.

“I will continue to teach a couple of courses but my deep involvement with KU is coming to an end,” Beedles said. “It’s been a great ride, but as my friend Maurice Joy would tell you, when you’ve outlived your usefulness, it’s time for me to spoil my grandkids.”

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