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Challenge for Mcketta a $28 Million Success

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Challenge for Mcketta

Cockrell School students celebrate with Professor Emeritus John McKetta. A fundraising challenge netted $28 million to advance his namesake department.

The Cockrell School of Engineering named the Department of Chemical Engineering for Professor Emeritus John McKetta four years ago, when its Challenge for McKetta hit the $10 million mark. But those were still early days.

The multiyear effort to advance the department and honor one of its most revered teachers and leaders ultimately raised nearly $28 million from alumni, friends, and corporate partners, considerably exceeding the $25 million goal.

It was the largest departmental campaign the Cockrell School has undertaken, and most of the funds are for endowments to attract and retain world-class students and faculty through scholarships, graduate fellowships, and professorships.

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

The campaign’s success capped two centennial celebrations for the department in 2015-16: McKetta’s 100th birthday and 100 years of chemical engineering education and innovation at UT Austin. The celebrations featured a series of lectures, symposia, alumni gatherings, and special events throughout the academic year.

McKetta joined the chemical engineering faculty in 1946. In the seven decades since, he has served variously as the department chair, as dean of engineering from 1963 to 1970, and as a vice chancellor of the UT System, all while continuing to teach and mentor students. Recognized as a global authority in his field, he has authored and edited 87 books, including the 69-volume Encyclopedia for Chemical Processing and Design, and served as an energy adviser to five U.S. presidents.

His leadership, passion for teaching, innovations in his field, and commitment to the university have inspired multiple generations. Not surprisingly, he was one of the early honorees of the Texas 10, an annual roster the Texas ExesAlcalde magazine began in 2011 to recognize professors who have made a lasting impact on their students’ lives.

“I’m so grateful to everyone who contributed and helped recognize the department’s centennial,” McKetta says. “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.”


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