Denver — CH2M made a $1 million gift for one endowed professorship in Oregon State University’s (OSU’s) College of Engineering. The endowment honors CH2M’s founders and their roots at OSU while investing in the future workforce promoting science, technology, engineering and math education.
“Our strong ties with CH2M are seen all over our campus, at Merryfield Hall, the CH2M HILL Alumni Center and the CH2M HILL Auditorium in Kearney Hall,” said Scott Ashford, Kearney Professor and dean of OSU’s College of Engineering, who worked at CH2M for 10 years. “These endowed funds will provide critical support for the College of Engineering’s best and brightest faculty who are leading by example through research and innovation, transformational education and inclusivity and collaboration.”
CH2M was born at OSU. In the 1930s, three students (Holly Cornell, James Howland and T. Burke Hayes) and their civil engineering professor, Fred Merryfield, began dreaming of starting an engineering company. After completing their military service in World War II, the four men launched a consulting business in January 1946 in Corvallis, Oregon, and named the company after their initials, CH2M. In 1971, CH2M added “HILL” to its name after merging with a company founded by another former OSU student — Clair A. Hill and Associates — after 15 years of collaboration on projects in California. The combined company would provide a diverse range of environmental and engineering consulting services around the world.
Decades of close connection and partnership between CH2M and OSU followed — a mutually beneficial relationship that has allowed both institutions to advance their efforts to build a better world. Many generations of OSU graduates have chosen CH2M as their employer, and many of those OSU alumni advanced into leadership positions in the company. Ralph Peterson, CH2M’s president and CEO from 1991 to 2008, began working at CH2M when he was still an OSU student. OSU faculty serve as consultants on CH2M projects, while CH2M employees return to OSU as adjunct faculty, mentoring the next generation of engineers.
This gift, the CH2M HILL Professorship in Civil Engineering Fund, commemorates CH2M, its cofounders and its positive impact on the world. The name “CH2M HILL” will live in perpetuity through this endowed professorship. The dean of the College of Engineering will appoint an endowed professor for a term of three to five years.
“I will always be grateful to our founders from OSU for starting this purpose-driven company,” said Jacqueline Hinman, chairman and CEO of CH2M. “By fully engaging employees in our success, CH2M has grown from a professor and his three students in Corvallis, Ore., to an innovative, sustainable industry leader in communities we serve, providing the best opportunities for engineering students who are motivated to make a positive difference in the world.”
Named faculty endowments honor and support faculty who are nationally known as scholars, educators, researchers and leaders in their fields. These endowments enable OSU to attract and support world-class faculty who bring the university’s programs to national prominence.
“This gift underscores CH2M’s continued commitment to strategically investing in the future workforce of our critical industry and supports the talent pipeline of our clients, as well,” said Ellen Sandberg, vice president of community investment and executive director of the CH2M Foundation. “We are honored to preserve CH2M’s legacy at OSU, where our company was born.”
On Aug. 2, CH2M and Jacobs announced a planned business combination that, upon completion, will create a new chapter for the combined companies.