Chemical Engineering Raises $28 Million to Complete Historic Campaign

For the last 70 years, one man has embodied the spirit of the chemical engineering community at the University of Texas at Austin: John J. McKetta Jr. His passion for teaching and love of the university are infectious — inspiring generations of students and faculty alike.

Challenge for McKetta

This spring, the John J. McKetta Jr. Department of Chemical Engineering successfully completed the “Challenge for McKetta,” an ambitious fundraising effort aimed at advancing the department and honoring McKetta’s tremendous impact.

The campaign, which raised $28 million from Texas Engineering alumni, friends and corporate partners over the last six years, exceeded its goal of $25 million and set a new record for departmental fundraising campaigns in the Cockrell School of Engineering.

Campaign funds will support new academic initiatives, upgrade chemical engineering facilities and provide critical resources to advance research projects. Many donors also established endowed student scholarships, graduate fellowships and professorships, all of which are critical to the department’s efforts to continue to attract the world’s top students and faculty.

“Completing the campaign is an extraordinary accomplishment for our department and for the Cockrell School,” said Thomas Truskett, chair of the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering. “I am extremely proud of how our chemical engineering community — from new undergraduate students to the most accomplished alumni — came together in an effort to honor Dr. McKetta, who has helped shape this department for decades.”

The Challenge for McKetta was launched in 2010 at an event celebrating McKetta’s 95th birthday. When the campaign hit the $10 million mark in 2012, the department was officially renamed in his honor.

“I’ve always considered students and members of this department family, and it means the world to me that we’ve come together to ensure the continued success of the department — and, more importantly, the future success of its students,” McKetta said.

Donor Spotlight

Dennis Griffith, John McKetta, Louise Richman

Dennis Griffith (B.S. ChE 1970) and his wife Louise Richman (B.A. Romance Languages 1969) made a generous multi-million dollar gift to the Challenge for McKetta through their estate to establish the largest senior faculty chair in the department. Their donation marks the largest individual gift in the history of the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering.

“Dr. McKetta has always been a joyful and inspiring presence at The University of Texas at Austin. He is a great advocate for the university and the profession of chemical engineering, but, most importantly, he has always put students first—that’s his greatest legacy,” Griffith said.

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