A decade ago, the University of Missouri-Rolla faced considerable challenges. Enrollment had dwindled to 4,626. Less than 10 percent of the freshman class graduated within four years. Outdated classrooms, laboratories and residence halls gave visitors the impression of a campus struggling to thrive. And then state appropriations to higher education began to freefall.
In the classroom, Missouri S&T students learn the basic skills that form the foundation of their degrees. It’s the hands-on learning — often outside the classroom — that sets S&T students apart from their peers. Organizations like Engineers Without Borders (EWB) give students a chance to learn real-world skills while improving conditions in developing countries.
In 1997, forward-thinking students decided it was time for a new student center, even though they would graduate long before it was completed. The students approved a special student fee, resulting in $12.5 million to help fund the facility. Using those fees, along with millions in private funding — including a $5 million lead gift from Gary Havener, Math’62 — university officials built the Havener Student Center, which opened in 2005.
During his tenure at the University of Cincinnati, Daniel B. Oerther researched water quality in India and helped develop water-treatment systems in Kenya. Now he’s further developing Missouri S&T’s environmental engineering program as the John A. and Susan Mathes Chair of Civil Engineering, an endowed faculty position created through donations from the Matheses.
The Miner Recreation Building, known to Rolla residents as the old Holsom Bread factory, is being transformed into the Kummer Student Design Center, named for Fred, CE’55, and June Kummer, who contributed $1.25 million to the project, along with $1.5 million given by additional donors.
The air in Toomey Hall nearly hums with ideas in progress. From the glass-enclosed Brewer Family Atrium — named for donors David, ME’82, and Melanie Brewer — students on three levels can been seen working intently. Wander the halls and you’ll find instructional and research laboratories throughout, housing many more students all absorbed in their work. The new complex adds more than 45,000 square feet.
Without the help of scholarships, Danny Ryan, ME’10, and Lance Weinmann, CE’10, ArchE’10, couldn’t have made it through college. To them, the alumni who founded their scholarships are heroes, and today, Ryan and Weinmann are doing their part to be heroes to the next generation of Missouri S&T students.
Thanks to the generosity of 22,000 alumni and friends, Missouri S&T’s future has never looked brighter. Nearly 20 percent of alumni – double the national average of 10 percent – contribute each year, supporting one of the nation’s broadest arrays of engineering disciplines.
Rank: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force, retired.
This year, 39 Missouri S&T alumni and former faculty were inducted into Missouri S&T academies. Academy membership recognizes a career of distinction and invites members to share their wisdom, influence and resources with faculty and students.