In every student’s educational journey, there’s at least one professor who forever alters the course of that student’s life. For Joe Rupp, MetE’72, there’s no question that person was the late Dr. Thomas O’Keefe, Curators’ Professor emeritus of metallurgical engineering at Missouri S&T.
As an undergraduate student, Rupp sought counsel and advice from O’Keefe, MetE’58, PhD MetE’65, when he decided to enter the metallurgical engineering program. When Rupp’s first summer internship fell through, O’Keefe stepped forward to recommend him as a candidate for Olin Corp.’s cooperative engineering program. After 37 years with the company, he’s now its chair, president and CEO.
“His help to me during these early years was typical of his desire to help young people make important decisions about their careers and lives,” says Rupp.
Joe and his wife, Sally, recently gave $100,000 to establish the Dr. Thomas J. O’Keefe Lecture Series. “In a small way, the lecture series will continue the academic environment he worked hard to create. We hope that environment will assist the university in providing continued excellence in technical education.”
Wayne Huebner, CerE’82, PhD CerE’87, chair of materials science and engineering at Missouri S&T, says the department plans to use the funds to bring back a high-profile alumnus each autumn at Homecoming. The series will begin this year.
Tom’s son Matthew O’Keefe, MetE’85, professor of materials science and engineering at Missouri S&T, says knowing that Thomas O’Keefe’s name will be associated with the metallurgical engineering program for years to come through the generosity of the Rupp family is very comforting.
“He constantly worked to bring out the best in each person, to maximize potential in ways that benefit us all,” says the younger O’Keefe. “His passion for educating undergraduate and graduate students didn’t stop at the classroom door, the edge of the lab bench, or the end of the semester. He cared about each student in a very personal and professional way, and it brought him great joy to see the students succeed in their careers.”