Donors increase endowments, establish faculty chairs

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On July 20, 2006

The University of Missouri-Rolla has received two new gifts from major donors to endow chairs in the civil, architectural and environmental engineering department.

John and Susan Mathes of St. Louis have added $550,000 to their previous donation of $550,000, which created an endowed professorship in 1995. Vernon and Maralee Jones of Tulsa, Okla., have added $525,000 to a previous donation of $580,000, which created an endowed professorship in 1997.

“These generous increases to faculty endowments will allow us to endow chairs for two nationally known experts who will continue to help distinguish UMR as a leading technological research institution,” says UMR Chancellor John F. Carney III. “We are grateful to the Matheses and Joneses for their continued support.”

Dr. Craig Adams, an expert in environmental engineering, left Clemson University to accept the Mathes professorship at UMR in 1995. He will now be the John A. and Susan Mathes Chair of Civil Engineering at UMR.

Dr. Antonio Nanni, an expert in the development of new construction materials, left Pennsylvania State University in 1997 to accept the Jones professorship at UMR. Nanni recently accepted a new position at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. A search committee will be convened soon to fill the Vernon and Maralee Jones Chair of Civil Engineering at UMR.

“We got what we wanted with Tony through the creation of the professorship,” says Vernon Jones, who earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UMR (then the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy) in 1953. “We wanted to make an investment in an individual who could bring something fresh and new to the university, and we got more than we expected. Now we expect that his successor will be an eminent researcher in the field. I intend to be a full member of the search committee to fill the new chair.”

Jones is the former president of The Williams Company, an energy and communications company in Tulsa.

With help from Adams and Nanni, UMR’s civil engineering department has been ranked among the top 25 civil engineering departments in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. According to Carney, both researchers have attracted and retained junior faculty, raised millions of research dollars, and played important roles in the recruitment of students.

Nanni led UMR’s research efforts involving the use of composite materials for the construction of new bridges and the rehabilitation of existing structures. He also provided leadership geared toward solving problems that impact the nation’s infrastructure systems.

Adams directs UMR’s Environmental Research Center. As the John A. and Susan Mathes Chair of Civil Engineering, he will continue to develop traditional and innovative ways to treat water and wastewater containing a wide variety of contaminants. Adams’ work involves understanding and optimizing the use of activated carbon and other absorbents in water treatment methods.

“I feel we made a great investment, and that feeling caused us to invest again – to move the professorship held by Craig to a full chair and to expand on our success,” says John Mathes, who earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UMR in 1967 and a master’s degree in civil engineering from UMR in 1968.

Mathes founded John Mathes and Associates Inc., an environmental engineering firm based in Columbia, Ill., in 1975. He sold the company to Burlington Environmental Inc. of Seattle in 1988.


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On July 20, 2006. Posted in News