Fostering Entrepreneurship at UST: The McNair Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

The McNair Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at The University of St. Thomas Houston was founded in July 2015 thanks to a generous $5 million commitment from The Robert and Janice  McNair Foundation. The McNair Center is located in University of St.Thomas’ Cameron School of Business.

The McNair Center is led by Dr. Martin Lindenberg.  Dr. Lindenberg grew up in South Africa and attended the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and studied Computer Science and Mathematical Statistics.  He graduated with honors and went on to medical school. Not only was he ambitious enough to tackle medical school, but he also decided to take  MBA courses at night. Dr. Lindenberg graduated with an M.B.B.Ch. (equivalent to a US M.D.); however, it was not a given that he wold follow the medical path. He was always inspired by his father, a businessman and entrepreneur, who had built a family owned clothing business from 20 to 500 employees; therefore, he decided to complete his MBA in Marketing, Strategy and General Management at the University of Witwatersrand.

In July 2016, Dr. Martin Lindenberg joined the University of St Thomas, Houston, as the Director of The McNair Center for Free Enterprise & Entrepreneurship.  With 30 plus years history of business and leadership experience domestically & internationally, Lindenberg has an impressive track record in the entrepreneurial arena.  He has personally grown 11 businesses, and invested in and consulted to over a dozen.  He has been a key player in starting 6 medical technology companies: 2 becoming public and 3 profitably sold later to larger companies.  He has a proven track record in executive and board leadership, varying from family enterprises to Fortune 300 corporations.

From 1997 to 1998, Dr. Lindenberg was the Founding Chairman and then continued as a Board member until 2014 of the Houston Technology Center, noted by Forbes as “One of the Ten Incubators Changing the World.” From 2004 to 2010, he was a Co-founder & President of Fannin Innovation Studio, which is an early-stage life sciences development group focused on commercializing innovations developed in the Texas Medical Center institutions. From 2014 to 2016, he was a Professor of Entrepreneurship at The Bauer College of Business at The University of Houston.

Dr. Lindenberg explains that The McNair Center’s purpose is to focus on the role of principled entrepreneurship in promoting economic growth, particularly as it relates to small businesses, and its primary goal is to educate as many people as possible on how free enterprise and entrepreneurship facilitate peace and prosperity in America.  He adds that along with focusing on small businesses, we also cover family and corporate businesses.

The McNair Center’s Mission

Dr. Lindenberg is excited about carrying out the mission of the McNair Center by educating individuals on several topics:

  1. The benefits of our American free enterprise economy
  2. The importance of individual initiative
  3. The value of ethical leadership
  4. The rewards of entrepreneurship

He emphasizes that “an appreciation of these four concepts will enhance peoples’ leadership abilities, increase contributions to their community and increase general prosperity.”

To be an entrepreneur, you don’t have to own your own business or have millions of dollars in startup or venture capital.  Dr. Lindenberg explains, “We want students to know there is a teachable mindset about entrepreneurship that will be valuable whether you work for a company or are fortunate to be an entrepreneur of any kind.”

The Entrepreneurial mindset is about:

  • being creative with problem solving
  • learning to execute solutions that deliver value
  • thinking like a business owner and not an employee
  • turning your passion into value

In the spring 2017 semester, the McNair Center for Free Enterprise & Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas launched its first minor, the Free Enterprise & Entrepreneurship program. The minor includes the following courses offered in the Cameron School of Business:

  • Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management (MGMT 4330)
  • Foundations of Financial and Managerial Accounting (ACCT 1301)
  • Free Enterprise and Conscious Capitalism (ECON 3371)
  • Individual & Organizational Success (MGMT 4289 & UNIV 4189)
  • Strategy for Sustainable Business (MGMT 4365)
  • Practicum in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Competition (MGMT 4369)



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