CORVALLIS - James Poirot, chairman of the board emeritus of CH2M HILL, has been named the 1999 recipient of the E.B. Lemon Distinguished Alumni Award at Oregon State University.
Sponsored annually by the OSU Alumni Association, the award is the highest honor given by the association to former graduates and will be presented Friday, April 23, in special ceremonies at the CH2M HILL Alumni Center on the Oregon State campus.
Born in Douglas, Wyo., Poirot graduated from Oregon State College in 1953 and soon joined OSC professor Fred Merryfield at CH2M, the small engineering firm Merryfield had helped start in Corvallis with several of his former students. Almost immediately, Poirot was called into active duty with the Army Corps of Engineers.
Returning to CH2M two years later, he became involved as a project engineer with waste and water projects. He worked in Corvallis until 1960 when he and Holly Cornell started the company's third office in Seattle. In 1964, Poirot served as project manager for the redesign and reconstruction of the city of Valdez, Alaska, which had been destroyed by an earthquake in March of that year.
In 1983, Poirot became chairman of the board of the company and served until his retirement in 1995. He is past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Consulting Engineers Council, and has served on numerous national boards and organizations.
He also is vice president of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations and president of the member of the WFEO Technology Committee. Also active in education, Poirot served as the first chairman of the Industrial Advisory Board and has been on engineering boards for nine universities.
Poirot has won numerous awards, including the American Association of Engineering Societies' Kenneth Roe Award in 1998, the William H. Wisely American Civil Engineer Award in 1998, Engineering News Record's 1988 "Man of the Year" Award, and the American Society of Civil Engineers President's Medal in 1988.
Poirot has made many contributions to the engineering profession and to OSU. He has been a member of the advisory board for OSU's College of Engineering, the OSU Alumni Association Board of Directors, the Oregon Joint Schools of Graduate Engineering Council Advisory Board and the OSU Foundation Board of Trustees. He also chaired the long-range planning committee for the construction of the university's CH2M HILL Alumni Center while he was on the Alumni Association board.