Messners launch $5M faculty endowment challenge

Friday, January 25, 2019
Michael and Jenny Messner. (Photo Courtesy: The Messners)
 

Longtime School of Civil and Environmental Engineering supporters Jenny and Michael Messner have made a transformational donation that will match $5 million in gifts that support the School’s faculty.

Through their family foundation, the Messners established the challenge fund to spur creation of new program-boosting endowed chairs and professorships. The gift will more than double the number of such positions in the School.

“The overarching goal is to provide up to $10 million in additional permanent endowment for support of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.”

– Michael Messner, BCE 1976

“The overarching goal is to provide up to $10 million in additional permanent endowment for support of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering,” said Michael Messner, who earned his civil engineering bachelor’s degree in 1976. This infusion of support “will enable the School to be even more successful in retaining and recruiting exceptional faculty at mid- and senior-career levels.”

Adding up to 10 new chairs and professorships will make up critical ground for the School, which has traditionally been behind its peers across the country and in the College of Engineering in the number of faculty members with endowed positions. With six current endowments, about 13 percent of the School’s tenured and tenure-track faculty hold a chair or professorship.

“Endowed positions are game-changers in terms of our ability to recruit and retain stellar teachers and scholars who will help us continue to make a difference in our society,” said Donald Webster, Karen and John Huff School Chair. “Providing faculty with the additional resources that such endowments offer gives them flexibility to explore new areas of inquiry or to support the growth and development of their students.

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“These positions are critical in our ability to remain one of the nation’s leading programs. I’m grateful to Jenny and Mike Messner for investing in our future in such a substantial way.”

Webster also said significant prestige is associated with endowed chairs and professorships, so they’re a key way to acknowledge faculty members’ accomplishments.

The Messners’ challenge extends until the end of June. Donors who wish to participate should contact the School’s development director, Ashley Coogan.

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