OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

$1.1 million to expand OSU endowed chair, enhance engineering program

01/24/2011

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has received $1.1 million that will enable the College of Engineering to rename and almost double the endowment of an existing faculty chair and honor the founder of the university’s highly regarded Construction Engineering Management program.

The gifts also will add faculty to the burgeoning program.

The funding includes a $300,000 commitment from an OSU engineering alumnus and a $500,000 grant from a national heavy construction engineering membership organization known as The Beavers (the name is not affiliated with the OSU mascot). These gifts are leveraging almost $300,000 in additional funds over five years from the OSU Provost’s Match Program, an initiative to encourage donors’ investments in endowed faculty positions that help advance OSU’s strategic plan priorities.

The new funding will bring the total size of an existing endowed faculty chair to $2.4 million. The chair, previously named the Construction Education Foundation (CEF) Chair, was originally funded by 120 OSU engineering alumni and industry partners. The chair will be renamed in honor of Hal Pritchett, a civil and construction engineering emeritus faculty member who founded the Construction Engineering Management program at OSU.

Endowed chairs play a critical role in helping universities recruit top faculty. The new funding also frees up resources to hire an additional junior faculty member in the Construction Engineering Management program, which has grown so much in recent years that additional teaching capacity is needed.

“Our CEM program is one of the strongest in the United States,” said Scott Ashford, head of the OSU School of Civil and Construction Engineering. “This philanthropic partnership will help us enhance the quality of the CEM program while honoring its founder, Hal Pritchett, and his 45 years of service to OSU.

“I am grateful for the leadership of the Construction Education Foundation Board and the many donors to the CEF Chair, whose vision started this effort,” Ashford added. “I would especially like to thank Mike and Terri Phelps, whose generosity was key to this new, collaborative gift.”

Mike Phelps, a 1976 OSU civil engineering alumnus and an executive vice president at Kiewit Construction Company, and his wife, Terri, made a $300,000 commitment that helped leverage a $500,000 grant from The Beavers Charitable Trust.

The Beavers is a California-based membership association of heavy engineering construction companies and individuals, which funds programs and scholarships that assist students entering the industry. The Beavers Charitable Trust maintains endowed scholarships for civil engineering and construction management students at 40 schools with a combined value approaching $4 million, as well as endowed chairs at three other schools.

Each year The Beavers honor outstanding individuals who have demonstrated particular skill, responsibility and integrity in the trade with the Golden Beaver Award, one of the highest honors in the field of heavy engineering construction. In 2003, Pritchett was selected to receive a Golden Beaver Award, only the third educator in the organization’s 45-year history to have been given the award.

“The objective of the Beavers Charitable Trust is to invest in future leaders of the construction industry,” said Phelps, who serves as president of The Beavers and has supervised Pacific Northwest construction projects for Kiewit that include the West Seattle Bridge and the third Lake Washington Floating Bridge. “I am proud of the quality of the engineering education offered by Oregon State and pleased to make my personal investment as well.”

“The endowed chair is a wonderful tribute to Hal, who has had a tremendous impact on the industry and the lives of so many engineers,” Phelps added.

Prior to joining the faculty at OSU, Pritchett worked for the Bureau of Public Roads and the Army Corps of Engineers, and served in the U.S. Army in Japan and the Philippines. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s in hydraulic engineering from OSU, and the degree of engineer in economic planning from Stanford.

Pritchett was on the OSU faculty for 45 years before retiring in 2002 and has represented OSU on the Oregon Associated General Contractors board of directors. He has received numerous honors, including the Oregon section of ASCE’s 1989 Engineer of the Year Award, and is still very involved at OSU.

Professor David Trejo, who was recruited to OSU from Texas A&M University in 2009, is holder of the existing Construction Education Fund Chair and will be the first holder of the renamed Hal Pritchett Chair. Trejo’s research focuses on the design and development of materials and systems for efficient construction processes and products.

These gifts are part of The Campaign for OSU, the university’s first comprehensive fundraising initiative. Guided by OSU’s strategic plan, the campaign seeks $850 million to provide opportunities for students, strengthen the Oregon economy and conduct research that changes the world. More than $659 million has been committed to date, including gifts creating 35 endowed faculty positions out of OSU’s total of 81.