San Antonio beer baron brews up historic $20 million gift to local university

San Antonio beer baron brews up historic $20M gift to local university

Carlos Alvarez San Antonio
In recognition of his donation, UTSA will name its College of Business after Carlos Alvarez. Courtesy of UTSA

The University of Texas at San Antonio has received a major donation from a beer-industry magnate and longtime supporter, whose name will grace the school’s College of Business, making it the first named college in UTSA history.

Carlos Alvarez, a Mexico native and San Antonio businessman whose work has involved bringing and growing some of the world’s most recognizable beer brands to Texas and beyond, has gifted UTSA with $20 million, the first donation of its kind for the school. The funds will be used to advance research activities, including creating endowed faculty positions, graduate research fellowships, and undergraduate research programs, according to a release.

In recognition of Alvarez’s generous donation, the school plans to rename its College of Business to the Carlos Alvarez College of Business, an unprecedented move for the university.

“This gift is a transformational moment for UTSA and the College of Business and will advance our mission to become a great public research university,” says UTSA president Taylor Eighmy. “The Alvarezes’ longstanding philanthropic support of UTSA and educational institutions nationwide is a testament to their commitment to fostering generations of future business leaders.”

Alvarez got started in business in Austin in 1981, when he sold the first cases of Corona beer in the U.S. After later moving his family from Mexico to San Antonio, he founded The Gambrinus Company, which became the U.S. importer for Grupo Modelo beer brands, and he spent the next several decades selling and marketing the wildly successful Corona Extra beer brand.

But during his rise as a brew king, Alvarez also focused on elevating one beer brand that’s particularly special to Texans: Shiner. He acquired the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas, in 1989, pouring funds into the brewery’s facilities and marketing efforts. Now independent, Shiner is the leading craft brewery in the country.

Alvarez, who also owns and runs Trumer Brewery in California, serves on several national and local boards, including those for United Way of San Antonio and the World Affairs Council of San Antonio, and is a member of the University of Texas System’s Chancellor’s Council. Additionally, he was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 2010, and in 2011, he was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which celebrates inspiring immigrants to the United States whose philanthropic efforts better their communities.

Co-chair of UTSA’s Campaign Leadership Council, Alvarez — who, along with his family, had previously contributed more than $7 million to UTSA — says he was driven to make the $20 million donation to UTSA in order to help propel other future San Antonio businesspeople to success.

“We are very proud to support UTSA and its outstanding students, many of whom — like me — are first-generation Mexican-Americans,” Alvarez says. “My previous support for UTSA dates back to 2006. As a result of UTSA’s stewardship of my previous gifts, and its success in growing and attracting high-caliber students, I was compelled to make this gift to the College of Business and support the largest business school in San Antonio, where I built my own business.”

The gift, notes UTSA provost and senior vice president for academic affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy, will be particularly significant for the school’s Latino students.

“This type of investment is especially meaningful for Hispanic Serving Institutions such as UTSA,” she says, “where more than half of our students pursuing business degrees are Latino. We are incredibly grateful to the Alvarezes for supporting our work to further diversify the leadership of our workforce and ensure it is representative of our communities.”

The gift is a major milestone, according to the university, and one that will have exponential effects. For Alvarez, he hopes the donation will enable others to create their own powerful legacies in San Antonio.

“Higher education will always be the most important spark for change,” Alvarez says. “We, as a family, are blessed to be given the opportunity to make this gift to UTSA’s College of Business, not only to support aspiring leaders, but to hopefully enable them to leave their own generational legacy that can positively impact San Antonio, Texas, and beyond.”