Messner Challenge update: Evans, Moorman family latest to endow new professorships

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Bonnie and Wick Moorman
The Moormans

Alumni Dwight Evans and Charles “Wick” Moorman still remember the professors who taught them the fundamentals of civil engineering. Both credit those “excellent” and “helpful” faculty members with setting them up for successful careers.

Now they’re both establishing new endowed professorships in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering to ensure the very best faculty continue to inspire the next generation of students in the School.

Dwight Evans

“There are a lot of things that can be done to help the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, but good teachers make a big difference,” said Evans, who earned his bachelor’s in 1970 and a master’s in 1973. Evans spent 40 years at Southern Company, one of the nation’s largest electric utilities. He retired as executive vice president in 2008.

Evans’ and Moorman’s gifts answer a call from fellow alumnus Michael Messner and his wife, Jenny, to create new endowed faculty positions. They created a $5 million challenge fund, offering to match contributions to new professorships and chairs dollar-for-dollar.

“Any opportunity to ensure that Tech stays strong academically is important to Tech graduates, to Georgia, and to the country,” said Moorman, retired CEO of Norfolk Southern and a 1975 civil engineering graduate. “And if you believe that civil engineering is a discipline that is important, why wouldn’t you help the Messners achieve this goal to make sure the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering stays strong?”

According to Moorman, “the Messner matching gift opportunity was a very attractive option. My wife and I talked about it, and in the context of our priorities it made a lot of sense.” Moorman credits his “excellent professors” and Tech’s civil engineering curriculum for preparing him for a successful career with Norfolk Southern. Moorman, who was a co-op for Southern Railways (Norfolk Southern’s predecessor) as an undergraduate, says the civil engineering background he received at Tech “was very useful, in large part because it taught me how to think.”

Moorman, who grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, said he always “did well in math and science and applied to Tech as a co-op student. My parents put me on a train — and I’m a train person, so that was great — and the first time I saw Georgia Tech was when I picked up my key from the housing office.” Moorman enjoyed his time at Tech – both on campus and in the co-op program. “It was seminal in my life, my career, and all of my good fortune,” he said.

“Any opportunity to ensure that Tech stays strong academically is important to Tech graduates, to Georgia, and to the country.”

– Charles "Wick" Moorman, BCE 1975

For Evans, it was the example of an older brother that paved his way to North Avenue.

“When I entered the first grade in 1954, my oldest brother entered Georgia Tech to become an engineer,” Evans said. “He was a good role model for all of us, and I told everybody I was also going to Georgia Tech to be an engineer. Georgia Tech — and civil engineering — were always on my mind from the time I was in first grade.”

Now, Evans easily names several of the professors he had at Tech, adding that “they were all extremely helpful” to him as a student. Evans worked to pay for his education and said the fact that money was tight actually helped him as an undergraduate.

“I didn’t have a car and I didn’t have money to do things, so I stayed on campus during weekends and studied,” he said. The education he received at Tech, as well as the hard work he put into it, served him well post-graduation.

“At Georgia Tech, they teach you three things: how to think, how to solve problems, and how to work.” Once in the workforce full time, Evans “was always at work an hour or so early, so I was there when the projects were assigned. The bosses gave the projects to people they knew would get things done,” he said.

Evans said he respects others who work and get things done.

“I read the Georgia Tech publications, and I was pleased by what the Messners were doing. I had been thinking about other ways to support Georgia Tech, so when this opportunity came about, I decided to support it,” Evans said.

Ensuring that the School continues to have an excellent faculty is important to Evans.

“It’ll keep Georgia Tech at the top,” he said. “If you grow up in Georgia like I did and go to Georgia Tech, you’ll get a degree that’s tops in the world.”

To inquire about making a gift in support of the Messner CEE Challenge, contact Director of Development Ashley Coogan at or 404.385.1604.